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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 143–146 | Cite as

J. D. Lewis-Williams: Myth and Meaning: San/Bushman Folklore in Global Context

Cape Town: UCT Press, 2015, 249 pp., ISBN 9781775822059 London and New York: Routledge, 2016, 257 pp., ISBN 9781629581545
  • Mathias Guenther
Book Review

This latest book by David Lewis-Williams, the dean of San/Bushman rock-art research, is a synthesis of a number of his other major works on the subject, which he has written or co-written over the past 30 odd years. Bushman rock art is considered in the context of the rich mythology and cosmology of the San, primarily nineteenth-century southern /Xam and Maluti Bushmen of the northwestern Cape and Drakensberg, with frequent references also to twentieth-century Kalahari San. The key terms and concepts of Lewis-Williams’s influential interpretive paradigm for San rock art based on shamanic trance are revisited and reinstated in Myth and Meaning with reference to a new concept, which Lewis-Williams employs as an interpretive device for making sense of the often oblique, ambiguity-beset meaning of San myth and belief. He refers to this analytical concept and methodological tool as “nuggets.”

Unlike the structuralist’s “mytheme”—to which Lewis-Williams’s earlier interpretive device,...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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