Femke Brandt, Ives, Sarah: Steeped in Heritage. The Racial Politics of South African Rooibos Tea. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 255 pp. ISBN 978-​0-​8223-​6993-​6. Price: $ 25.95 in:

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Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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working with others and that “[t]aking others seriously is the first rule of [his] kind of anthropology.” Thus, the task of anthropologists should be to humbly take the people they work with seriously in order to allow themselves to be educated by them. This position seems to recall the ob‐ servations of Antonio Gramsci from his “Prison Note‐ books” (Quaderni del carcere. Edizione critica a cura di Valentino Gerratana. Torino 1975). The second chapter pivots around the similarities and differences of people that inhabit the one world that all of us share together. In this chapter, the author debates on the old manner that regards the dichotomy between “nature” and “culture.” Gleaning from his personal ex‐ perience, the author suggests that anthropology should reframe the concept of humanity as a never-ending “process of collective self-fashioning in history” (39). In chapter 3, the author explores the relation between physical anthropology and archaeology, lingering into the facts that shaped anthropology nowadays. In his at‐ tempt of pinpointing the origin of the division of the discipline, Ingold retraces the history of anthropology, with a particular focus on English-speaking tradition, highlighting the conceptual differences of the American and British traditions. In doing so, the author takes on his own personal experience as a student and teacher describing the struggles that anthropology had to face to become a defined discipline, distinct by the others. In‐ gold’s expedient masterfully brings the history of an‐ thropology in the current debate of the relationship with other disciplines, glimpsing the tensions and risks that emerge in contexts of shared expertise. In the following chapter, the author delves into deep‐ ening the arguments previously introduced, attempting to demonstrate that “[h]umans … are biosocial beings … [that] produce each other in body and mind, in the practical tasks of social life” (101). Here, the author’s neat narrative offers some sharp critiques on Lévi- Strauss’ structuralism, Fredrik Barth’s transactionalism, and of cultural ecology and sociobiology. Referring to the current debate mainly developed by feminist schol‐ arship, Ingold advocates that rethinking the intra-action between humans and other species may offer the oppor‐ tunity for a revolution of the entire way of giving mean‐ ing to the world (102 f.). As the reader reaches the final chapter 5, “Anthropol‐ ogy for the Future,” he/she could expect that the critical issues posed in the previous chapter will be finally re‐ solved. However, in his 131 pages, Ingold seems not to answer to the questions that he himself posed at the be‐ ginning of the book and, as M. Godelier points out (Comment on Anthropology. Why it Matters. Anthropo‐ logical Forum 2019), it is not clear if the author really meant to answer them. Notwithstanding, this could be seen consistent with Ingold’s view in believing that there is not a final solution to these questions as long as life is to continue (6). In this regard, the book fulfills its goal in prodding all the help it could get and leave to the reader the opportunity to answer the question with his/her own contribution. Finally, the book has the credit of highlighting the need for “re-establish anthropology as a single disci‐ pline, rather than a congeries of separate sub-disci‐ plines” (116). In this regard, according to Ingold, only if anthropologists get rid of prejudices and stereotypes that surround the imaginary of the anthropologist, they can define themselves as a distinct discipline “in its own right and not a specialized subdivision of something greater” (117). In conclusion, Ingold’s passionate way of writing is particularly effective in offering an intriguing introduc‐ tion to anthropology for students that are engaging with it for the first time, and in urging senior anthropologists to rethink the meaning of doing anthropology and to re‐ flect on its impact in everyday lives. Greca N. Meloni ( Ives, Sarah: Steeped in Heritage. The Racial Politics of South African Rooibos Tea. Durham: Duke Universi‐ ty Press, 2017. 255 pp. ISBN 978-0-8223-6993-6. Price: $ 25.95 Sarah Ives’ “Steeped in Heritage” is a well-crafted multispecies ethnography of the lived realities, and con‐ trasting “versions” of these realities, in the world of rooibos tea production in South Africa. A remarkable aspect of the study is the inclusion of rooibos as “actor” in the webs of social and ecological relationships be‐ tween the plant and white and colored rooibos farmers. Rooibos exists in the fynbos biome between the status of wild and cultivated species since the turn of the 20th century when people began farming it commercially. Fascinating is the movement of rooibos towards the South and thereby destabilizing notions of indigeneity and rooted belongings. Ives traces local narratives and politics over who and what belongs in the rooibos land‐ scape in the context of what Ives calls “geographical precarity” (15). This refers to a merging of uncertain claims to belonging in a place with uncertainty of the rootedness of the place itself. “Steeped in Heritage” is a story of the making of a commodity shaped by global neoliberal capitalism and local politics of land, labor and belonging. In the Ceder‐ berg region the commercial production of rooibos is al‐ most entirely controlled by white (Afrikaans) farmers. Few colored farmers (less than 7 percent) produce rooi‐ bos, on small-scale, despite chronic shortage of land and resources. As a result of colonial dispossession and apartheid engineering, white farmers own the majority of land in the area, whereas colored farmers depend on access to land through the church and forming coopera‐ tives. Agricultural employment is increasingly seasonal and temporal drawing black “migrants” to the region who serve as a cheap labor reserve for white commer‐ cial farmers. Both white and colored farmers expressed uncertainty and anxiety about their futures as they are unable to compete with large-scale farmers and agribusinesses and they fear the effects of climate Book Reviews 229 Anthropos 115.2020 change. Ives shows that what is at stake here are shift‐ ing livelihood patterns intimately linked to political, spiritual, and social systems of meaning. The rooibos narratives and rumors that Ives docu‐ mented illustrate how white farmers in South Africa “naturalize” white land ownership and belonging. This happens at the expense of colored and black people who are rendered invisible, labeled as “alien” and never fully human it seems. Afrikaner men are identified with the harsh environmental conditions that they adapted to through generations of family farming. They traced their origins to the rooibos soil and not to Europe. This intimate relation with the indigenous rooibos plant “in‐ digenized” them as well. They strongly belief that the extinct Khoisan people are the only “true” natives in the area who would be in the position to challenge their position on the land. They rarely acknowledge the cause of their extinction, namely colonial conquest. Colored farmers did not claim indigeneity or identify as Khoisan people. Their connections to rooibos focused more on its potential to break free from the oppressive relations on white commercial farms (92), a way of living to “get their dignity back,” and the possibility to care for the environment on their own terms. In this way, colored farmers claim ownership of rooibos as their heritage. Ives acknowledges that the emancipatory potential of the few small-scale farmers and their relations to rooi‐ bos depends on access to land, government economic policies and the impact of climate change. For now, the continued erasure of colored and black people’s labor and presence in the rooibos farming landscape is an on‐ going violent outcome of white farmers’ sense of be‐ longing in South Africa. “I just want a life, that’s all I want” said a colored man during a meeting on workers’ issues in Ives’ presence (182). The book presents hardhitting scenes where colored residents insist that Ives witnesses their everyday violent realities. There is an encounter with a farmworker in the local Spar (163 f.) whose friend’s shopping basket exposes the inevitability of hunger when depending on farmworker wages. An‐ other example is a scene of Ives, together with an American friend, in the hospital on a Friday night (38). Whilst there, a man insisted they look at a dead colored man who was stabbed in the neck. Everyday life in the Cederberg consists of more and less dramatic moments in which people have to negotiate structural violence. It struck me how much “Steeped in Heritage” res‐ onates with my own fieldwork findings from the East‐ ern Cape where I studied (in 2009) contestations of be‐ longing of another “indigenous” commodity farmed in South Africa, namely wildlife. Wildlife, like rooibos, has become a privatized commodity predominantly con‐ trolled by white commercial farmers and landowners who claim to be custodians of African landscapes and wildlife. Similar too are the ways in which white farm‐ ers’ sense of belonging is always frustrated by the pres‐ ence of unruly black people and wildlife species chal‐ lenging their control and authority. Just as the shifting rooibos ecosystem, wildlife breaks through fences and ignores property boundaries marking the borders of the farm, or even the nation. Mobility of human and nonhu‐ man species challenge power and property relations. Ives’ ethnography unmasks how local notions of peo‐ ple and species that are “out of place,” like black mi‐ grant workers and Australian Port Jackson trees in the Cederberg, are essentially matters that are beyond the control of the dominant group of people, in this case white commercial farmers. The fieldwork evidence traces how constructions of who and what constitutes an “alien” species result in violent social and ecological re‐ lations. The relevance and urgency of revealing the power contestations behind claims of belonging are po‐ litically important as another wave of xenophobic vio‐ lence just hit Johannesburg. In this context, we should address the question what is the purpose of ethnograph‐ ic knowledge that aims at understanding structural vio‐ lence? In my view, Ives’ findings raise questions about white farmers’ agency. Cultural and material appropriation of another plant species creates another layer of disposses‐ sion. When will it stop? What do we do as academics when we find that white farmers do not perceive farm workers as humans and do not care about the wellbeing or death of colored people in an environment where they own most of the land? The prospects at the end of 2019 of government implementing a land reform model that radically disrupts agricultural relations and specifi‐ cally the power and privileges of white farmers seems unlikely. In terms of what it means to be human today, the rooibos story leaves a bitter aftertaste. Femke Brandt ( Jung, Yuson: Balkan Blues. Consumer Politics after State Socialism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019. 192 pp. ISBN 978-0-253-02914-0. Price: £ 26.99 I read “Balkan Blues” as a commentary on the cur‐ rent crisis of capitalism. By focusing on Bulgaria, Yuson Jung carefully analyses the relations between cit‐ izens and state institutions and the broader citizen-con‐ sumer politics. Jung argues that in order to understand the Bulgarian post-socialist and EU accession path, we need to pay close attention not only to the relations between consumers and the market but also to the rela‐ tions between consumers and the state. She analyses the state and the market as anchored in each other, and demonstrates how Bulgarians’ changing relations with the state influence their consumer practices. As the au‐ thor explains: “I argue in this book that examining con‐ sumption as a site of civic engagement in which civic ideals are cast, as opposed to a site where identity and aspirations are expressed through individual agency, al‐ lows for new insights for understanding everyday con‐ sumption practices” (147). Already in the introduction to “Balkan Blues” Jung ar‐ gues that “consumer society was not automatically cre‐ ated from increased access to material abundance after living through socialism’s deficit economy” (7). And in 230 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.