The Bioarchaeology of Marginalised Peoples
Dr Linda Mbeki
Tue, 13/09/2022 - 18:30 to 19:30
Western Cape
Title: The Bioarchaeology of Marginalised Peoples
By: Dr Linda Mbeki
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Since the arrival of the Dutch East India Company in 1652, South Africa's economy has had an insatiable appetite for free or coerced labour. This is most evident in the reliance on the work of enslaved persons in the Dutch colonial Cape and the cheap labour that the mines in Griqualand West and the Rand relied on to maximise profits from the diamond and gold mines. In both cases migration of labour was integral to the colonial project. Isotope and archival studies have contributed to an understanding of the lived experience of these peoples.

Linda Mbeki is interested in the bioarchaeology of marginalised communities. Her work focuses on migration and diet of enslaved persons at the colonial Cape, and workers’ migration to the gold and diamond mines during South Africa’s mineral revolution. She applies isotope geochemistry to skeletal material and interrogates written records to elucidate individual histories. By studying labour migration and diet over 170 years (1750-1920) of South Africa’s history, Dr Mbeki wishes to assess whether and to what extent the migrant labour system is part of a continuum that began in 1658.

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