Schapera, Isaac


Schapera, Isaac
▪ 2004

      South African social anthropologist and educator (b. June 23, 1905, Garies, S.Af.—d. June 26, 2003, London, Eng.), wrote and lectured on many aspects of the culture of the Tswana people of Bechuanaland (now Botswana). His works—including A Handbook of Tswana Law and Custom (1938), Married Life in an African Tribe (1940), Native Land Tenure in the Bechuanaland Protectorate (1943), and The Tswana (1953)—earned him the respect of the people he studied as well as that of his colleagues.

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▪ South African anthropologist
born June 23, 1905, Garies, South Africa
died June 26, 2003, London, England

      South African social anthropologist known for his detailed ethnographic and typological work on the indigenous peoples of South Africa and Botswana.

      Schapera received an M.A. from the University of Cape Town and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science. His work was influenced by his instructors A.R. Radcliffe-Brown (Radcliffe-Brown, A.R.) and Bronisław Malinowski (Malinowski, Bronisław), from whom he learned structural and functional analysis. His work tended to document the dynamic acculturation theories of Radcliffe-Brown over Malinowski's then-prevailing ahistorical model. In his own work, Schapera emphasized the empirical and historical perspective. Schapera taught at the University of Cape Town until 1950 and at the University of London between 1950 and 1969.

      Schapera's numerous field trips to Bechuanaland (now Botswana) during 20 years allowed him to record oral history accounts in the native tongue as well as to make minute observations of the effects of exposure to other cultures. He devoted much of his time to studying the Tswana, and his research covered most aspects of their life. His A Handbook of Tswana Law and Custom (1938) continued to be used by Tswana courts into the 21st century. Schapera worked with both British and native political structures in his studies of land tenure and migration and was able to analyze the effects of government colonial policy in several areas. His published works include Praise Poems of Tswana Chiefs (1965), Rainmaking Rites of Tswana Tribes (1971), and Kinship Terminology in Jane Austen's Novels (1977).

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Universalium. 2010.

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