This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewee: Dr. Brian M. du Toit
Interviewer: Kumar Mahabir
Date: February 15, 1995
M: This interview is being conducted in the basement of Turlington Hall at the
University of Florida in Gainesville. Today is February 15, 1995. The time is 2
p.m. The interviewer is Kumar Mahabir, and the interviewee is Dr. Brian Du Toit,
professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. Dr. Du Toit, let us begin
with your name. How did you arrive at your name? Do you know the
circumstances by which you got your name?
D: [It is] simply a family name [from] French Huguenots that immigrated to South Africa
in 1688 from France. [They] went by way of Holland, Dutch East Indies
Company that was operating in South Africa. The French Huguenots went to
South Africa as settlers and that essentially is where the name Du Toit comes
M: Do you remember anything about your grandparents, great-grandparents? How far
does your memory go back?
D: On my father's side, I remember my grandfather slightly. He died in the early 1940s,
I think 1940 maybe. I was about five at the time. I remember going on the farm.
He was a retired Dutch Reform Minister, and I remember he lived in the Cape
Province. There was an ostrich farm, and I remember shimmying under the
fence and tempting the ostrich, which is about as dangerous as one can do, and
then running back and sliding under the fence. I got scolded for that. I
remember that much about him, but not very much. The mother on my father's
side I do not remember. Then on my mother's side, my grandfather died when I
was about a year or two. The grandmother on my mother's side I had great
contact with. She was of Holland Dutch descent, was married to a Britisher, an
Englishman in South Africa. I remember her very well. She stayed with us
periodically when I was a child. I had a great deal of contact with her.
M: Tell me about your parents. What kind of family do you come from?
D: I came from a family that was very close. My father came from a long line of
theologians. His father was a minister at a Dutch Reform Church. His
grandfather was the first professor of theology in South Africa. My father
qualified as a teacher, but then went on almost immediately to theological
training and went to Edinburgh in Scotland for his theological training. He did not
go to the theological training school in South Africa for political reasons. He
disagreed with some of the basic tenets that they were working on, so he did his
theological training in Edinburgh. My mother came from a very education-
conscious family. She herself was a bit of a wild one. She rode a motorbike, in
fact, when she was a teenager which was unheard of in the town where she grew
up. Her father was very much a literary person, so she grew up with reading,
with books, with classics. Out of that home then, they got married just before
going to Edinburgh, Scotland. They spent three or four years in Edinburgh. My
brother was born while they were Scotland [when they were] graduate students.
She did social work in Scotland in Edinburgh. They came back. I was born
shortly after they came back to South Africa. There was one, maybe two sisters,
that died at birth or shortly after. I very nearly did not make it. At that time, of
course, blood tests at marriage were not done the way they are now, with the
result that my father and mother were Rh incompatible. Strangely enough, my
brother was completely healthy, but I almost died in childbirth. It was touch-and-
go for the first couple of days or weeks. Then the sisters died. My parents
adopted two little girls. So we are a family of four--two boys and two girls, but the
two little girls were adopted. That is the family background, so to speak.
M: What number in the family are you?
D: I am second oldest. There is a brother who is older than I am, then me, then the two
M: Where is your brother? What is he doing?
D: My brother is an attorney is Johannesburg in South Africa and was acting judge this
last year. He is very much a legal mind working with court cases and settling
disputes. His forte, I think, is in settling disputes, out-of-court kind of
negotiations, that kind of thing, although he has acted as a sitting judge in the
Supreme Court this last year.
M: What do your two sisters do?
D: Both of them were married. The older of the two was married before going to
college. Her husband was a very, very forward striving young fellow who
became principal of a school and did very well as a school principal, first as a
teacher, and then as school principal. He remained a school principal for most of
his life until he retired for health reasons a couple of years ago. The youngest
sister did special education, particularly dealing with the hearing impaired and
taught at a special school for the hearing impaired in South Africa in Pretoria.
She met, while at college, a young fellow who, again, [was] very dynamic in
agriculture. He became one of the top people in citrus and is now second in
charge of what is called South African Citrus Bureau, which deals not only with
citrus, but with the deciduous fruit, both the growing components. He is into the
market, particularly the export market. He is very much involved in the
redistribution of export products.
M: Can you tell me anything about your primary school life? Where did you attend
D: My father was, as I said, a Dutch Reform Minister, and at the time when I was kid
[we lived] in a very a small town. I started going to school in a fairly small town
with a fairly large school, but when I was in the second grade, they moved to
area, and I effectively spent my junior school, that is from grade two
through grade seven in a one-man school house. It was phenomenal. For a
child it was the most beautiful setting. It was a small town of about five or six
houses with farms all around spread widely. I would go to school in the morning,
a little barefoot boy, never wore shoes, went to school winter and summer. I
walked to school. I do not know whether I learned anything. I kicked soccer
during playtime which is an I had a horse and I had a rifle, and
very often in the afternoon I would be off to the farms visiting with my friends.
Weekends and school holidays, vacations, I would simply live out on the farms.
It was an absolute ideal situation. The teacher that we had had to share with
everybody, deal with everybody, from first grade up to seventh grade. Somehow
I came out of that. That was essentially my junior school years.
M: You mentioned that there were farms around. What kind of farms were these?
D: General farming. It is in the wheat area of South Africa, so a lot of corn and wheat,
particularly corn farming, mixed farming, cattle. I remember very clearly some of
the farms where I worked. The one where I was the most frequently had two
young, young men, the sons of the farm. One was about twenty-two and the
other about twenty-one. The one was strictly into animals, the other one strictly
into agriculture. So they split, really, the work on the farm with the father being in
charge. It was very much mixed farming. We had, in fact, a mini-farm going on
our lot, which must have been about five [or] four acres. We planted crops. We
had very extensive chicken coops, chicken runs, that were divided up. We had a
pig's sty that was ultramodern one with but everything on cement
and poles with grease on them so that the pigs could roll and smear
but not get into mess. And we had cows. I remember we had, at one point, four
jersey dairy cows. All four of them were registered. Part of my activity was, in
fact, helping with the feeding of the chickens. The milk had to be separated. We
sent away cream to a creamery which was in another town. The separated milk
was shared with the pigs and chickens. It was very much of a brutal life, very
much a farm life where I grew up.
M: What secondary school did you attend? Did you have to write an exam to enter that
D: No. We had a system in South Africa, which is the British, which is first and second
grade, and then standard one through standard five. The school did not cater to
anybody beyond [standard six], which effectively here would be eighth grade. I
had to go to a hostel, which is a boarding school. I went to a school that was a
couple hundred miles away and lived in the dorms. [I was a] young fellow, a little
boy of twelve years old. Many nights I lay there sobbing in my bed. I missed
home. You did not write an exam to enter, but that was the
beginning, really, of education for me. It started with math and Latin and
academic subjects in a systematic way that we certainly did not do in the seventh
grade. That really is where education started. I lived in the dorm, and there were
a number of boys' dorms and girls' dorms around the school. The school had
about four hundred students, which was a monstrously big school. Nowadays
you find schools where the graduating class is four hundred. A school of four
hundred was fairly big. The school had all the amenities: a library, academic
programs, and sports activities, so that you were always involved in something.
When you were out of school, there was always something to do, an activity
associated with the school.
M: Would you say that your class position in South Africa helped you to enter into a
D: These were all-white schools, all-white dorms, all-white facilities, all-white privileges-
-in that sense of being white and being allowed into white--yes. In other words,
what we are dealing with really is a caste-type system, rather than class. Within
being white, I was not able to do it because of being the son of a minister or
being of a better class than other whites. But within being white, the school was
white and was for whites only. The dorm was for whites only, so that was
privilege and restricted access.
M: I am not sure if I got the name of this high school that you attended.
D: The high school was called Folk School. Folk is the people, the nation, so the high
school was called Folk School in Heidelberg, Transvaal. The reason for saying
Heidelberg, Transvaal is that there also is a Heidelberg in the Cape just like there
are different Gainesvilles: Gainesville, Florida and Gainesville, Georgia.
M: Growing up in a cultural setting, were you not taught that your orientation toward a
career would have been related in some way to our culture?
D: I was very much tempted. In fact, the farm that I visited the very often, the farmer
had a daughter who was just a year older than I was. He always jokingly said,
"Marry my daughter, and you will inherit the farm." I was attracted to her, but not
that much. I was, really, a farm boy. Even though I did not farm, I did not live on
a farm, I lived on a plot with a little bit of farming going on, but at heart I was one
of them. I thought like they did. I acted like they did. I did things like farmers do.
When I went to school in a town, I hunkered to get back. Whenever I could--
long weekends or vacations--I simply went back there and submerged myself. In
high school one obviously could select their courses. I took agriculture in high
school, not that I was ever thinking of going into farming. That is what my
interest was. Even now I am interested in farming and in gardening and things
like that. I grew up with animals, I grew up with horses, I had my own horse. I
grew up with caring for cattle and for animals all along and working with the land,
on the land, working with plants, and things like that. When I selected my
courses, I selected agriculture, which I took all the way through twelfth grade.
Along with that I took biology, which was more academic oriented and then
academic subjects like Latin, of course. In South Africa, one had to have either a
science such as chemistry and those subjects, or a language such as Latin to
have access to university. I selected that specifically with the idea of university
M: Was there a stigma attached to doing agricultural work at that time?
D: Yes. I wonder. If you talk about labor-type work, I would think that there was a
stigma attached to the fact that certain kinds of labor, certain kinds of manual
labor was derogatively referred to as black man's work, work, at
least when I grew up. So that cleaning the cattle stall would be seen as menial
labor, whereas feeding them or something like that ... I grew up, luckily, with
none of this kind of division. My parents had very good friends who were blacks,
very good friends who were Indians. There were not very many of what we now
call colored. That is mulatto in the Transvaal where I grew up. They were mostly
in the Cape. But Indians and Africans--we grew up with them from the beginning,
and I was taught to respect them, an older person of another color. It did not
make any difference what the color was, an older person required respect. And I
was taught that right from the beginning. In terms of menial work, if the cattle
stall needed cleaning on a Saturday morning, it had to be done before I could
take off and go play and go to the farms or anything like that. I grew up very
much with a--I would not say unconsciousness, but certainly much less emphasis
on class or caste hierarchy or color differentiation or anything like that. My
parents were very open-minded and raised us right from the beginning as being
M: You mentioned that your parents were open-minded and cordial and had good
friends who were Africans and Indians, but if were to choose a black Tamari,
what would you think?
D: There would be no choice. There would be no choice. The marriage would go with
your colored class, mostly because of educational and cultural reasons. In a
country where there was at the time, perhaps ten million blacks, the number of
people who were university educated and "cultured, sophisticated" and that kind
of thing were relatively small--in fact, dramatically small if you compare it with
what is going on now. First of all, in terms of just finding an educated [person],
but secondly in terms of belonging within your cultural group. I do not speak for
other African groups, but certainly for Zulu. Zulu would frown upon one of their
members marrying a non-Zulu, because the Zulu are so proud. I work with the
Zulu a long time, and I am very, very, very fond of these Zulu and their culture
and their values. But the fact of a Zulu marrying outside of Zulu culture and
outside that ethnic consciousness would be frowned on very heavily.
M: Your father was a minister, you said. The church that you attended--were there
blacks in that church, too?
D: At that time in South Africa, it simply did not happen. There were no black
members. My father was a minister and preached in black and white churches,
but the society, the total society was divided to where there were black
congregations, black schools, black residential areas, and black churches--
everything. So that right from the beginning one grew up in a segregated
society. You grew up in a society that perhaps became more segregated
because what happened was that the nationalist party came into power in 1948,
which was my first year at a high school in the dorm. I remember the divisions
becoming more clearly defined and more clearly drawn at that point. The
Nationalist Party came into power in 1948, and by 1952 they had installed major
apartheid policy in terms of separation of races in all kinds of aspects of society.
M: Tell me the circumstances which led you to attend the university in South Africa?
D: Well, it was logical. It was simply logical that I would go to university. It was not
even discussed [having] come from the tradition, the background that I came
from, it was expected that I would go to university. My brother is two years older
than I am, and he went ahead, first to high school. I went to the same dorm at
the same high school where he was, and when he finished he went on to
university and went into law. It was only logical that when I graduated that I
would go on to university. So there was no discussion of it. There was nothing
evaluating it. When I graduated, I went to the University of Pretoria.
M: Did you write [graduation certificates (?)] at that time?
D: We wrote the senior certificate, yes. The way in which senior certificate is written in
South Africa is that the exam is taken in the school hall auditorium where you
walk in with a pencil and a ruler and go sit and take your exam. You have a
number. You do not put your name on the paper, only the number, and all the
exam papers are sent up to headquarters in Pretoria where they are graded by
outsiders. The grades, then, are sent back to the central point, and the names
then are attached to the grades. The teachers are not involved in this at all.
M: Who were these outsiders?
D: Outside teachers, or professionals.
M: Not from England or anything?
D: No, no, not from England. This is the senior certificate, or matriculation certificate,
and again now, you have to have had either a language or a science plus five
other courses. I had English and Afrikaans, and I had agriculture and biology
and history and Latin. The history and the Latin were core courses. Biology was
a core course, as a science. Then I went to university. It is not a foregone
conclusion that everybody passes. The exam is done in November and in the
beginning of December all the names are published in the paper with the number
that the student wrote and the name next to it and the grades the student got with
a little asterisk if the person qualified to go to university. There is a little asterisk
in front of the name. For many people, they opened the paper and looked for the
asterisk because if they cannot the asterisk that means repeating a
year or doing some remedial work if they possibly can or else not going to
university. They have to do something else. Luckily, when I opened the paper,
there was my name with passes all the way and with an asterisk. Then the next
stage starts and that is planning to go to university. I went to the university of
Pretoria, which is the capital of Transvaal. It was a fairly large, very conservative
[school]. I discovered as I matured [it was] a very conservative university. I
went there essentially because of theological training and I was going to enter
theological training, specifically with the idea of working .. I always had an
interest in black South Africans, and I always had a feel for the underdog. So
when I went to study for the ministry, my idea was to work in the mission area. I
went in and started out, and in South Africa for the ministry you really do the
classics and go [through] the classic training. I took Greek Hebrew and Latin at
university, and sociology and anthropology in my first year. I had never heard of
anthropology. And suddenly, here was something that was looking at the very
subject that was my primary interest. I became more and more interested in
anthropology, selected it as a major for the bachelor's. The bachelor's is three
years in South Africa, not four years like here. So I took it as a major and took
my two years of Greek and Hebrew. [I] decided that Latin was not for me, not at
university level. Then [I]gradually became interested more and more in the
D: That went well with the anthropology, because to major in anthropology we had to
have an African language. I graduated, then, with two majors: anthropology
and sociology and a minor in Zulu. After the bachelor's, the logical thing was to
go into divinity school and qualify in the ministry. And I postponed that for a year
while I took a master's in anthropology.
M: Was not your father, who was a minister, disappointed that you did not pursue the
D: He may have been, but he never indicated and never guided. My parents from the
beginning said, "Make a success of what you do, whatever it is you do. You
have to be happy, because you have to live that life." So when I said I want to go
to university, they said, "Fine, we will support you and help you as far as we can."
When I, about halfway through, said, "I am really turned on by this anthropology
thing," which they had never heard of--of course, it was outside of their major
experience area--they said, "If it interests you, pursue it." They helped me and
supplied background and gave me books and stuff. When I decided to, at the
end of the bachelor's to do a master's in anthropology, they helped all the way.
Never once did I get any negative feedback or negative connotation or
disappointment or anything like that. [I got] complete support all the way through.
In my final year at the bachelor's level, there was an American student. I had,
by then, decided that I wanted to go overseas for my doctorate. I had kind of
decided that I was going to do anthropology and move away from the divinity
school theology. I thought I would go to Edinborough, because my dad had gone
to Edinborough, and I had written to people there, Ken Little and other people at
Edinborough with the idea of going to Edinborough for post-graduate work. Here
they call it graduate work. In my final year, there was an American, a Fulbright
Scholar, who came to South Africa. He and I ended up as neighbors in the dorm.
He was in the room next to me, and we saw a lot of each other. He visited us a
lot. My parents liked him, and he liked my parents. He became almost like a
brother the two years he was in South Africa. He went with us on vacation and
spent weekends with us. One day he and I were talking and he said, "Why do
you want to go to Edinborough? Why not go to America for you graduate work?"
And I said, "Well. ." He said, "Come on. I will help you draft a letter." So we
drafted a letter and sent it out to twelve universities in the states, and that is the
D: In other words, that is really where it took off. I was working on my master's degree
with the idea already of coming to the states for the Ph.D.
M: Right. Let us go back a little.
M: You mentioned that you did both sociology and anthropology as an undergraduate at
the University of Pretoria. What attracted you to anthropology?
D: It is a most amazing thing. I had always been interested in, as I said, in other
cultures, particularly in the blacks. I was interested in the underdog. Just before
I went to university, my mother was talking to a friend of the family, and I was just
finishing my matric and she mentioned to him that I was about ready to go to
university. He said, "What is he going to study?" She said, "Well, he does not
really know." Let me interject here that there was, in terms of academic
preparation, in terms of guidance, in terms of counseling, in terms of academic
information zilch, absolutely zilch. In other words, here I was finishing twelfth
grade, and I did not even know what kind of courses were offered at university.
There was absolutely no communication, no preparation. My mother had been
talking to this guy and he said, "What is interested in?" She said, "Well, he wants
to go into theology. Most likely he would have to take Greek Hebrew and Latin,
but he is interested in people. He is interested in minorities. He is interested in
other cultures." So he said to my mother, "What he should study is," and I will
give you the Afrikaans word, "sos and volkekunde." Sos is an abbreviation, I
found out later, for sociology. Volkeunde is anthropology. It comes from the
German volkekunde and really is the study of people. When I came home for the
vacation, my mother said, "I talked with so-and-so, who graduated from the
University of Pretoria, and he says you should study sos and volkekunde." I went
to the university and walked in to register and they said, "What do you want to
take?" And I said, "Sos and volkekunde." I did not have the faintest idea what it
was. I did not know whether it was the study of hogs or electronics. I said, "Sos
and volkekunde." That is how I ended up in sociology and anthropology. There
was no guidance, no counseling, no advice, no information, no preparation--
simply a friend who, from what my mother said about my interests, told her, "He
should study these subjects." That is how I started out with Greek Hebrew and
Latin as the required courses and then sos and volkekunde--sociology and
anthropology. My mother must have [given] a good description, because he had
pegged me just perfectly. Those were my majors, and all the way through up to
the professional level.
M: Did you have to write a major project, like a little thesis before you got your first
D: No. The university calendar is geared on a yearly basis. The academic year starts
in South Africa, southern hemisphere, in February, and you go from February
until the end of June. That is the first half of the year. You would have a midterm
or something like that. Then you would have thereabout three weeks vacation,
mid-winter vacation, then come back in in about the end of July. That is when
students really come back and start studying. The first half of the year they do
not do a darn thing. Then they come back and suddenly start studying. Term
papers have to be written now in preparation. And exams take place at about the
end of October, beginning of November, which is a major exam. That is the time
when we wrote on the whole year's work. It was a major exam. If you were
going to complete the course, you would write the major exam, and be done with
course. Or, even if you were going to go on with it, you would write the major
exam and that would conclude the first year. The next year you would take the
second year's course. There was no mini-thesis or anything like that. That came
at the master's level, but this is at the bachelor's level. [There were] major, major
M: Was not you desire, wish to study anthropology which basically is
people in direct contradiction to the apartheid system that was operating in South
Africa? You being a white wanting to study blacks--would that not have been a
problem in terms of acceptance, in terms of building a rapport, in terms of
entering into certain communities?
D: No. The question was only one of interest and willingness and dedication to do it,
[and] with that decision on your part, the dedication, honesty, and openness with
which you do it. I started working when I was doing my bachelor's I used
vacations to work in black neighborhoods. [I] had the major clash with my
teachers, with my professor at the University of Pretoria, specifically on this in
terms of confronting him in front of a class and contradicting him in terms of
dealing with blacks, in terms of humane dealing, rather than derogatory dealing
and things like that. In any case, that is a whole other story. Since then I have
worked and I have gone back and worked. Through the crisis years in South
Africa--I worked in black neighborhoods--I never once worried about safety or
protection or anything like that. I have always felt that if you are honest and open
and dedicated people will honor that and respect it and accept you for what you
are. That proved itself true.
M: Would not sitting members of the community that you were studying be hostile
against you and make accusations that you were some kind of and that you were
the one holding the over their neck?
D: Again, I have not found that. The very fact that I and was am interested in improving
conditions, that I was interested in opening up communication in terms of
representing their position and writing about it and defending their
position .. There may have been people who were resentful somewhere along the
line--I do not know. As I said, I never experienced any of it. In fact, [it was] the
opposite. I always had support and acceptance and rapport.
M: Your degree in sociology and anthropology kind of interrelated. What basic
distinction do you see between anthropology and sociology?
D: Well, in South Africa anthropology studied minorities and sociology studied whites.
Anthropology did essentially ethnographic type of research. Sociology dealt with
social problems and Durkheimian approaches. Now that anthropology has
matured--keep in mind that was 1950s anthropology, and if you read now about
1950s anthropology throughout the world, that was the wind-in-the-palm-trees
type of anthropology not dealing with social problems, not dealing with applied,
not dealing with modern topics. The anthropology that I was trained on, that I cut
my teeth on, was very much an anthropology of the age at that time, which
looked at minorities, looked at blacks, looked at quaint societies and asked very
ethonographic type of questions. My interest and my master's thesis were very
much in that vein. Sociology, again, dealt with pertinent problems of suicide and
alcoholism and prostitution and social institutions and things like that.
Anthropology, in the last two, three decades has come around to where I now tell
my students that they can study any subject. It depends on how they approach it
which makes it anthropology. But at that time not--at that time if you wanted to
study a particular topic, that would almost qualify sociology or anthropology. For
me as a budding social scientist, I think it was healthy to take anthropology and
sociology because ultimately they became so mixed that you were doing the
sociology of the blacks and bringing them together in a meaningful way. The
theory and the methodology that came from sociology had meaning for
anthropology. There was a blend that was a normal and natural one.
M: Who were your major influences in anthropology at the University of Pretoria? Are
there any names even among your classmates who have become prominent?
D: When I was at the University of Pretoria, I entered into a hierarchy old man Professor
Coertze was the man who had established the department at the University of
Pretoria and was very much a dictator in terms of his department. His son was
brought in as a young fellow and took over when he died and only retired a
couple of years ago. They really dominated [and] ran the department.
M: What was the son's name?
D: It was also Professor Coertze, ultimately. The first one I forget. The second one was
Ruloph R. Coertze. They dominated, I must say, for about thirty years, [and]
between the two of them [they] ran the department. I had bad vibes with them
because they were, first of all, members of the ultraconservative secret society,
the because they were very conservative. They were prejudiced.
And they were opinionated, and as I said, I had my first run-in as a senior at
university, which was something that simply was not done. It was unheard of for
a student to challenge the professor in class, particularly on a topic such as this.
There was a senior lecturer in anthropology who taught anthropology of religion
and some of the social material, but essentially anthropology of religion, and he
really made a great impression on me and had an influence on me because of
his calm, mature kind of approach to the subject. In the sociology area, there
was a man, a Hollander, I think, who taught social problems that I became
interested in. The two of them, I think, are the major [influences]. But it is really
outside of anthropology that my major influences, major academic influences,
came from. One was an old family friend who was a friend of my parents even
before I was born and had a major influence on me. He was a minister who
became professor of theology [and] was outspoken, absolutely outspoken about
the racial situation in South Africa. [He] wrote a major book, which stood for
thirty, forty years, called Color Crisis in the West. He did [it] on a Carnegie Grant
in the United States. He came to look at the situation he and then went back and
wrote on South Africa. Many years later [it] was kind of ostracized by the
government and white South Africa because of his outspoken critique of the
situation. Luckily, before he died, he could look back on changes that had come
about very much in terms of his prediction and statements. That was Professor
Ben Marais, who was a major force in South Africa. [He] was a professor of
theology and influenced generations of students, young people. I will mention
my own parents. They had a major influence on me in terms of my approach, my
outlook, my willingness to accept and allow for that kind of philosophy. I think
those are essentially the major influences that I would think of is from the family
and then select friends of the family.
M: Were there any classmates?
D: Classmates at that level, no. There was a young fellow that was in class that later on
I came across at the museum in in He was not a
major influence on me. I am thinking of classmates now, people who are in my
D: They were contemporaries at the university, freshmen and sophomores and seniors
when I was in the same dorm, for instance, that I had contact with. But I lost
contact with most of my university friends when we came to the states. [We]
really just lost contact almost completely. I have lots of contact with ex-students
of mine in South Africa, but not so much with fellow students.
M: Therefore you would say that some of them have not really published any major
work, otherwise you would have?
D: I would have known. I would have known. No.
M: I guess you would have seen them at the anthropology meetings?
D: Oh, there is nothing like that, no. In terms of my contemporaries, it is almost a low
period. The generation before me produced the major anthropologists. If you
take Isaac Shapiro and Monica Wilson, Eileen Krige ..
M: All of these are from South Africa?
D: All of these are from South Africa. Max Gluckman, Clyde Mitchell, Meyer Fortes--all
of these prominent social anthropologists were the previous generation. They
were the people who taught me that were the teachers at the time when I was a
M: Did they actually teach you?
D: No, unfortunately. Unfortunately not. And again here, hindsight is twenty-twenty. If I
knew I was going to go into anthropology, I would have gone to a different
university. But I was going into theology and then became interested and cycled
into anthropology. Then in my generation there was a guy who finished off at the
same time as I did, Gordon, who finished at the University of Stellenbosch. I was
at Pretoria about 800-1,000 miles apart. He is now at the University of Vermont.
He is a contemporary of mine.
M: What is his full name?
D: Oh ... I will tell you in a little bit. I will get his name. And then there are a couple of
people that came out of that age was one--no, he was a little bit
before me, but there were one or two people who came out of that generation.
Mostly, it was a bad generation, a non-productive generation. Then when I went
back, I taught at University of Stellenbosch and at the University of Cape Town,
the three years that I went back. I do not know whether I was lucky, or whether
the fact that here was a young fellow--I was twenty-eight when I went back to
South Africa with a Ph.D. and started teaching--I think the fact that I was young,
that I spoke their language, had their frame of reference, that I interested
students. Out of my student class, within a couple of years, there was a
professor at University of Cape Town, Martin West, professor at UNISA
(University of South Africa), Pretoria, Mike de Jongh ... in any case there were
three or four people who had been my students who were professional
anthropologists and occupied chairs. I think that maybe the fact that here was a
young guy who was not much older than they were and who had gone abroad,
who had gotten professional, who had done research in New Guinea, and who
had come back and was publishing, may very well have acted as a stimulus.
The next generation produced a pretty good lot of anthropologists, though not as
productive as I would like to have seen. Martin West did a fair number of things.
M: Bishop and Prophets.
D: And then one or two others. Then [he] went into administration because he was
good. But nevertheless, I think that may have had something to do with the
activity level in anthropology.
M: Was the University of Pretoria one of the most recognized university in South Africa?
D: Yes. Yes. And again, it is hard to say. At the time when I went to university, there
were effectively eight universities--four Afrikaans medium and four English.
Pretoria, Stellenbosch, Potchefstroom, and Bloemfontein were the four Afrikaans.
University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, University of Natal, and University
of Witwatersrand were the English universities. Essentially, people who were
Afrikaans culture and tradition, Boer background like myself, went to Afrikaans
universities. English-speaking foreigners, etcetera, went to English-medium
universities. University of Pretoria was recognized as a relatively good, I would
say was in the upper echelon, in the top half of the universities. I would put it that
M: Were people of Indian ancestry, people like me, attending the university at your
D: The only university that they could go to at that time was the University of Natal.
There were some exceptions at all the English universities. People of Indian
ancestry and some blacks and some coloreds, mulattos, were allowed on special
allowances to enter the English medium universities--not the Afrikaans
universities. The University of Natal Medical School was open to all races.
Witwatersrand University Medical School had a number of members of other
ethnic groups. As part of what happened in 1948, as I said, when the Nationalist
Party took over and enforced total apartheid, they put a stop to many of these.
They created an Indian university in Natal which is now the University of Durban-
Westville, which is a pretty good Indian university. Now that apartheid has gone,
it still is a university which focuses on Indian cultural language and traditions so
that whites and blacks can go there if they are interested in southeast Asian
cultures, but there is no more apartheid as far as that goes. They also created at
the time a number of black universities, one in Turfluk, the northern Transvaal,
and one in the top. In terms of the original when I was at university, there was
one black university, Fort Hare, in the Cape, which is a university that produced
black leaders from the beginning. Seret se Khama, who was first president of an
independent Botswana, for instance, had gone there. Many of the black leaders
had gone to Fort Hare. There essentially were four Afrikaans, four English, and
Fort Hare. Then the others were created.
D: The University of South Africa is a correspondence university. Very good quality.
The drawbacks of a correspondence university are obvious--the fact that
students would have to come to Pretoria for consultation with professors, that
everything is done in terms of printed notes that they had to study, buy textbooks,
etcetera. They have students throughout the world--the United States as well. It
serves a good purpose because in South Africa, which was relatively rural at the
time, many who could not afford a residential university had the opportunity. This
really served minority groups [that] could not attend a residential university and
were very often working and would study at night and would work through this
correspondence university. Many people got the beginning of their education, at
least, through that. It still exists and caters to that category of person.
M: When you were doing your graduate work at the University of Pretoria, were you
reading any of these anthropology works that were written on South Africa?
D: We all read ethnographies. You read the ethnographies. You read the Social
System of the Zulu. You read Shaka Zulu. You read books on the Pedi, the
Plaza, etcetera, etcetera. These were ethnographies. Then the professors
lectured on comparative anthropology, comparative studies, which is really more
of a British anthropological approach in terms of comparative sociology,
institutions, and material like that. On the other hand, we also used American
anthropology textbooks. That is really how I got my access, my introduction to
American anthropology, was by using textbooks. The Fulbright Scholar, who was
in South Africa at the time that I mentioned earlier--we have maintained contact
all these years. The year after he left he married a girl who was in my class.
They are still married, and they are coming to visit us in two week's time. This is
from 1954, 1955. It is forty years, forty years that I have known this fellow. He
became professor at Brown University in political science and is a recognized
scholar and is now associate dean at Brown University. In any case, his
influence was to say, "Why not think about the United States?" I was using the
textbooks, and he said, "Let us draft a letter." And I drafted the letter and sent it
to about ten schools and that was the initial contact then to the United States.
M: Before we actually get to the United States, were there any ethnographies about
Africa that left a deep impression on your mind when you were an
D: Simply working with Zulu. I knew some Zulu from taking it as a major at the
undergraduate level. We had, at that time, a beach cottage which was in Zulu
area. I spent a lot of time there when I could. I had contact with the Zulu people.
As a master's student, I did my master's thesis on Zulu religion and ancestor
cult. My interests from the beginning had been on Zulu and my contact had been
with Zulu from the beginning.
M: Okay. What preparations were made for you to leave? Were you aware that you
would be away for so many years from your parents and that kind of thing? What
[effect] did it have on you?
D: I was twenty-three. I had just gotten married.
M: Oh, you had gotten married?
D: I had just gotten married in March, and we left in June or July.
M: Your wife is from South Africa?
D: We had been at the same university. We had just gotten married and she was not
quite twenty-one when we got married. She was twenty-one and I was twenty-
three when we left South Africa to come overseas. Nobody planned or
anticipated how long it was going to be or anything. We were very naive. We
said, "Gee, you know there is great adventure." In fact, on the first day that I took
her out I said, "Would you go to America with me?" She was kind of shocked at
my question, but I insisted on an answer. In any case, the parents and the
relatives there, I think, saw this as an opportunity. My parents had done the
same thing and had left on the day they got married, the very same day, [and]
had gone overseas to Edinborough. So us coming out to the states was an
adventure. As I said, we were very naive; we did not plan ahead. We did not
think about finances or long-term implications. But I think that is the advantage
of youth; older people always want everything planned. Now I look at my
children and I say, "How can they do something like that without planning?"
M: Tell me something about your wife. Most people at the undergraduate or graduate
level would find a partner of the same kind of disciplinary area . something in
common. I think your wife is in music.
D: At that time I knew more about music than any of the other people that she dated. I
was into classical music and I knew a great deal. In fact, I was invited to come
and give talks at the girls' dorm, which I loved, of course, and illustrated with my
records. I had a great record collection, and I knew a fair amount about classical
at the time. It was, in part, music that brought us together. Other than that I am
not sure what it was.
M: Obviously she would be interested in anthropology because you would spend most
of your time ...
D: She became more interested as she became better informed. In fact, she has since
then said that if she knew what she knows now--again hindsight--she would have
taken anthropology rather than criminology and psychology, which she did.
M: So you first went to the University of Oregon. How different was it? Was there
culture shock? Here is an American system; you had grown up in the British
D: Right. I came by ship on a freighter [with] twelve passengers.
M: How long did it take?
D: It took fourteen days [to get] to Boston. [We] got off the ship in Boston and got on a
Greyhound bus and went across the United States on a Greyhound bus to
Eugene, Oregon, with a couple of stops on the way.
M: And your wife was with you?
D: [It] was the two of us.
M: With luggage.
D: With luggage, with boxes and boxes. In any case, [we] arrived there and were very
hospitably received by the first person that I bumped into [who] had never seen
nor heard of I was sitting at the foreign student office looking at the paper of
addresses looking for an apartment. She looked over my shoulder and said,
"Oh, you do not want that. That is too far from the university. Come, I will take
you." It was a Mrs. Burch who was the president at the time of what they call the
Altrusers Society, I think it was foreign student friendship families. She became
our family away from home and adopted us, really, and was just a phenomenal
family, she and her husband. In any case, she said, "Let us go out and look. I
will help you find a good apartment." We went back to the motel and got my wife,
and then went and she showed us one or two and we got an apartment. Then [I
went] to the university. Of course, starting out was phenomenally different. In
South Africa, the system had been walk into class, keep very quiet, take out your
pen and pencil--even at university--the professor walked in, said, "Good morning,
ladies and gentlemen," and started lecturing. You took down everything he said;
then he dismissed class and you left. As I said, when I questioned and openly
confronted this created almost a disaster at university. But here in the states,
immediately when I walked in [there were] different themes, different approaches.
Students [were] sitting around a seminar table with their feet on the table. The
professor came in and smoked in class, coming in with cups of coffee.
D: T-shirts. Arguing with the prof. The first year my theory was so far behind because
of what I had done in South Africa. For the first year, I was really doing catch-up
in terms of reading and getting up to par on theory. I was also completely in
methodology and was completely out of whack because of being used to going in
and listening and taking down the notes. Then when you got to your exam, [you
would] go and regurgitate it, and the clearer your reflection of the professor's
views, the better your grade would be. [I] came to the United States and [was]
thrown into a free-for-all to discuss and present my position. I literally took the
first year to get to the point where I could participate in discussion. In the first
semester, I remember, [there] was a class by Homer Barnett. It was cultural
dynamics. The first semester we did theories of culture change, and the second
semester we did Innovation Theory, a book that he had written. The first
semester I would just start to organize my thoughts on the topic when the
students were off on the next topic. In the second semester I at least could
formulate and frame a question, and they would be gone. You had to very
quickly learn to think on your feet in the states, and that is something that I grew
into. I can empathize with international students now, where students have that
problem of, perhaps, coming from a culture where you are not supposed to be up
front and not argue and confront and disagree. I can understand their problem
because our system is definitely think on your feet, and unfortunately, in many
cases the mouth is faster than the brain so that a lot of people talk when they
should be thinking.
M: Was there anything, your accent or mannerisms that reminded you that you were
different from the Americans when you came?
D: The accent, obviously. I always wore a tie and a coat.
M: As a student?
D: As a student--always.
M: Were you the only one doing that?
D: I was the only one. I was known on campus as the best-dressed guy because I was
the only one. At that time, there were not that many foreign student at the
University of Oregon. I was known as the best-dressed guy on campus, not
because I was dressing for any reason, I was used to [it] at Pretoria. You put
that on went you went to class. As a student you always put on collar and tie and
coat. In fact, that is the expected. That is the expected way. I continued that
way. And the accent, of course, was there. I remember my first year I had a
tuition scholarship. And then at the end of the first year I got a teaching
assistantship and I had a teaching assistantship for three years while I was at the
University of Oregon. I remember one of the students who had spoke to the
professor and said, "that tall, blonde Englishman" when describing and I was
neither blonde--well, I was fairly tall--but I was definitely not an Englishman.
M: Did your accent from participating from discussions and so on with speaking out
loudly in a hall with many students?
D: Well, I think that is again partly socialization and partly personality. Some people
speak out loudly whether they have an accent or whether they are understood or
not. I tend to be a little bit more reserved, even shy, I think, and so I would not
participate in something if I am not part of it. I was brought up [to] say something
if somebody is listening or make sure that you are communicating, make sure
that you are in conversation with somebody. Then you do not have to say it
loudly because you have an audience and you listen and you are communicating
with somebody. And that just went into me and has remained part of my
M: I know that you had been given a Farrell Lines travel grant to the United States.
What was that about?
D: That was when we were coming out the first time at the end 1957 when we applied
for money. Farrell Lines was one of the major shipping lines. I applied to them
for a travel award, which they awarded me, which was free passage from South
Africa to Boston.
M: That was the first time you went to Oregon?
D: To Oregon, yes. We sailed from Cape Town and went to Boston and checked in and
landed in Boston.
M: That grant was given to you or to your wife, also?
D: No. Only to me. We paid her fare. I was a graduate student. I had a master's and I
was going into doctoral a program. She had a bachelor's in languages and she
was coming and she did a bachelor's in music here.
M: How did you get a tuition waiver, tuition scholarship?
D: I wrote to these different schools and then got accepted at Northwestern University.
There were a number of primary schools that I wanted to go to. Northwestern
had the major Africa program in the United States at the time. Melville
Herskovitz, who was head of the Africa program there, had been in South Africa
in 1957. I talked with him there and said I was interested in coming to the states.
When I applied to Northwestern University I was awarded a teaching or research
assistantship--I am not sure what, but it was an a assistantship. I had also used
Barnett's book which were the beginnings of applied anthropology. Native
Administration it was called. I had written to Oregon. Then when we got close to
the time to depart we applied also for my wife for admission. Northwestern
University required her to give a musical performance which should be taped in
South Africa. The tape was sent to Northwestern, and they would evaluate her.
So that was one kind of negative evaluation. Then people had told us about
Chicago. We had grown up with Al Capone and shooting. I said, "Gee. Here I
am from little old rural South Africa. Do I want to go into Chicago?" And then we
got the information from Eugene, Oregon, a small town dominated by a
university, essentially a university town. We quickly shipped out material for my
wife's application and both of us got tuition waivers, which at that time was easier
to get. We had to pay registration, but not [tuition]. That was a break. That was
a major break. At the last minute, we had to go from Pretoria to Johannesburg
where the American embassy was to have our visas changed, that we were, in
fact, going to Oregon and not to Chicago. So that is how we ended up in
M: Who was your advisor at Oregon?
D: Homer Barnett. When I applied my application said that I was interested in working
with Native Americans, who at that time were called red indians. I was interested
in working with red indians in terms of the acculturation situation. In other words,
I wanted to look at how the native population here with the major influx of foreign
whites had coped as compared with how the native population in South Africa,
which was a majority, had coped with domination by foreigners, even though
[they were] the minority. [They were] the political majority. My idea was to come
and do an acculturation study. I was interested, really, in that. Barnett was
interested in native administration kind of applied stuff. I got interested. When I
started working with him, I found that he was also the expert on Oceania and had
worked in Mirconesia, and I just became fascinated with Oceania and
Micronesia. [I] started doing translations for him from what at that time was
Dutch New Guinea, what is now Irian Jaya, the Indonesian part on the west side
of New Guinea. He had a lot of government patrol reports that were in Dutch
from the Dutch administration that they had sent in. My wife and I both got into
translation work and translated all of those for him in English, which he then used
in later publications. Then I became interested in Oceania [and] in the possibility
of going to New Guinea. [I] became interested, in fact, in going to Dutch New
Guinea at the time [and] was very fortunate that at the time a man who was a
professional anthropologist in Holland and had been a government anthropologist
in New Guinea and who had ultimately become the governor of Dutch New
Guinea, Professor Jan Van Baal was a visiting professor at the University of
Oregon. He and I just latched onto each other because I could speak a bit of
Dutch and Afrikaans. He liked to speak Dutch, of course, obviously his home
language. I was interested in going to New Guinea. He was interested in having
somebody go where he had been, and so we had a great time; I learned a great
deal from him. We applied at the time also for money to go. We applied to the
National Science Foundation. Right at the end, the thing just fizzled out when
the United Nations took over Dutch New Guinea. Indonesia had repeated
claims. There was some hostility, some confrontation, and so that petered out
and effectively closed down the possibility of going there.
M: Who were the major professors at the University of Oregon in your time?
D: There were four. The head of the department was Luther Crestman who, from your
interest, was the first husband of Margaret Mead. They had married when she
was just a student and he had just finished his doctorate. He studied as an
Episcopalian minister and before he went into archaeology they got married and
were married for a short period. That is the claim to fame as Margaret Mead's
husband. He was chairman. [He was] a very great gentleman. In fact, when I
applied to the University of Oregon, I had to send letters of recommendation from
South Africa of course and sent a whole variety of them. When I got there, he
called me in one day just after I got there and said, "Tell me, who is this
Professor Coertze?" I said, "Well, he was my major professor that I have to use."
He said, "Well, we decided to ignore his letter, because all the other letters were
positive and his was very, very [negative]." That is an aside as well. Before I left
South Africa when I took leave, this Professor Coertze called me in and said,
"Remember now that before you go you should come so that we can indoctrinate
you so that you do not come back contraindoctrinated." I remember those words
like ringing in my ears. In any case, Luther Crestman was head of the
department and very much a father figure of the department and almost the
identical person to when I came to Florida Charles (H.) Fairbanks (professor of
anthropology and chairman, appointed 1963), who was the father figure here.
[He was] the founder of the department and father of the student [and] did
everything for the graduate students. [He was] absolutely a father. That was
Luther Crestman. At the same time there was Homer Barnett, who was second
in seniority, and had worked under Kroger in the northwest coast and then in
Oceania. Ted Stern, who had worked in Highland Burma, and then was working
on Native Americans. I worked under him when I did the Klamath Indian
Reservation Research. Then there was Vern Dorian, a west Africanist who had
worked in Sierra Leone under the His father was a professor at
Northwestern. He was just a young fellow starting out, and in fact, their daughter
and our daughter are about the same age. Then there were one or two junior
people who came and went, but those were the four, the core people. They had
the museum attached to the department and the museum was very much used
as a teaching museum so that people in the museum taught. For instance, some
archaeology courses, some on-site archaeology. I did my physical anthropology
under a museum person in terms of bringing in bones and doing all the bone
identifications and osteology and stuff was all done under the auspices of the
M: Were there any classmates of yours who rose to prominence, was published, and
had become famous?
D: Yes, definitely. In fact, let me think. People who just ahead of me but whom I knew--
Don Hogstrasher at the University of Kentucky did a great deal in rural health.
Jim Clifton was a very good friend of mine and worked on American Indians,
Native Americans, and became professor at Green Bay, Wisconsin. There was
one other foreign student from Lebanon, when I was there and he and I were
great friends. He used to visit us and we visited him a lot, He
became very well published and visited the University of Chicago and [was a]
visiting professor and things like that. [He taught at] American University in
Beirut. Whatever happened to him after all the violence there in the last decade,
I am not sure. Walker at the University of Colorado at Boulder was
a very good friend of ours, and in fact, is the compare of my daughter. Bob
Kice--we are all in the same group--is director of the East-West Center at the
University of Hawaii [and] worked on Bikini and and the Micronesia
dislocated peoples. Bill Stewart is at the University of Maryland. That really was
the core group that I moved through. I am not sure that there are others. That
was the core group that I moved with, really.
M: How long did it take you to get your Ph.D. at Oregon?
D: Five years. As I said, my first years was essentially catch-up. Then I took two years
and took my doctoral. You and I have talked about what the exam was. It was a
twenty-hour written and a four-hour oral, which is a major, major exam. Then I
went to New Guinea and that is another story, going on a major project, the
National Science Foundation.
M: Was this your first fieldwork project?
D: Well, I had worked in South Africa for my master's, and I had worked on the Klamath
Indian reservation while I was a student.
D: They had applied for the money and I had applied to go to Dutch New Guinea. That
had fallen through, so I had started to work on Indian Reservation
where children where taken from and with a conscious program of
changing their culture. They brought them in there and isolated them from their
families and started sending them out to white homes with the idea of
M: An experiment.
D: Yes. I got involved in that and started to do my fieldwork, going up there over
weekends because the New Guinea thing had closed. Then I had doctoral oral;
the written part I had finished and then I had the oral part. It was on Saturday
morning. As I walked into my orals, Homer Barnett called me aside and said
NSF had just awarded this major grant to the University of Washington.
M: That was before the orals?
D: At that Saturday morning at eight o'clock he said, "Tell me by Monday morning, eight
o'clock, whether you want to go." I went into the orals, and I do not how I got
through. I fumbled through and at twelve o'clock went home. There was my wife
and baby daughter, [who] was a year old. I went in and said, "Here is this
phenomenal opportunity to go to New Guinea. What should I do?" There was
really no doubt that I would go, that I should go. On Monday morning I said,
"Yes, I will go." Then we started reading the limited ethnography that was
available on the Highlands and came across all these references to delayed
hostilities and cannibalism and head hunting.
D: Well, this was before Kulu. We decided, "Well, it is too good a chance to pass up."
[My wife] would stay with [my] daughter in Eugene and I would go. When the
time came, that, in fact, is what we did. I took leave, tears, and all the rest of it,
and I took off for New Guinea for the year.
M: A whole year?
D: I was there for about two weeks, I think, three weeks, and I was living in the Stone
Age village and building my house in the village, or people were building it from
woven bamboo walls and thatched roofs and all the rest of it. I suddenly got the
idea, "I am safer here than I am in Eugene, Oregon." Once again, it is just what I
said earlier about being in South Africa with the blacks. I never felt threatened. If
I can look somebody in the eye, I can convince that person that we are friends
and that we are on the level. I wrote her immediately and said, "Come on out,
bring Ilene and come on out and you will be safer and happier here than in
[Eugene]." It took about a month to get all the arrangements made. Furniture,
books, and stuff was packed and stored in Dr. Crestman's basement. Then she
flew out, came to New Guinea, and I got her and we lived there for the whole
year. [It] was the most fantastic time you have ever had in your life. [You] put
away your clocks when you went there. You get up when the people are up; you
go to bed when the people go to bed. You eat when they eat; you sleep when
they sleep. You just cycle into their rhythm. That was a most fantastic year.
M: Did you publish both your master's and Ph.D thesis and dissertation?
D: I published a paper. When I was a graduate student, I had the opportunity to go to
the American Ethnological Association conference in San Jose, California. We
drove down from Eugene and I gave my first professional paper. That was on
my M.A. thesis on Zulu religion. That was published in Anthropological
Quarterly. That was the first one. The doctoral dissertation was published.
M: Okay. Under what title?
D: Akuna--A New Guinea Village Community.
M: Your first book, I note, was published in another language.
D: In Afrikaans.
M: What is the title of it?
D: That is a book that made me both famous and infamous simultaneously. The title is,
Beperkte Lidmaatskap. The translation is, Restricted Membership. The artist did
a very nice job [on] the cover, [which] has little stars, asterisks, all of them are
green, but one or two are white. Restricted Membership was a study of secret
societies with a chapter specifically on the African which is the
secret society among the white Afrikaaners in South Africa. As I said, that
endeared me greatly to them, particularly since I compared with secret societies
the world over in anthropological perspective. Then in the end [I] had a
comparison with a number of secret societies. They did not welcome that. My
name was mud, which was part of the reason why I came back to the states and
settled here. Just the idea of a young guy having the temerity to get into all this
secret society information and confidential information and stuff. .
M: Have you made any attempt to translate and publish this in English?
D: Yes. There have been four or five different single publications, papers, and I
published most of that material in another book called Configurations of Cultural
M: I have seen that.
D: What I did there was take three themes, namely education, change, secret societies,
and blend them into attempts at assuring cultural continuity. At the time when
they were created, [they] had a positive aim and that was to give cultural
continuity. When cultural continuity has already taken place, then they become
like a cancer because then they remain and they disfunction. That is the critique.
M: In 1974 you published People of the Valley. How did that come about?
D: There is an isolated little valley where people during the pioneer movement had
literally gotten sidetracked and stayed there. I was teaching at the University of
Stellenbosch. During the winter vacation, which is July I with one of
the students who later became a professor of anthropology at
There is another one that I was talking about. Kotze became head
of the department [and is] a very prominent man in anthropology in South Africa.
He went with me. He was an undergraduate and went along for the ride and
helped a little bit here and there, but nothing structured. I was fascinated [and]
started out with the idea of doing a folklore study and ended up with a great deal
historical depth and folklore and culture change material. I had published three
or four articles, papers, on that material. When I came to the University of
Florida (Solon T.) Sol Kimball (graduate research professor of anthropology,
appointed 1966) had come. He and I came at the same time, 1966. Sol Kimball
said, "You know, there are relatively few community studies of this nature." He
had worked in Ireland, and there were a number of studies being done in the
Ozarks. This was essentially the same as one of these pockets in the Ozarks.
He said, "I think you should pull it together and publish it." He, in fact, wrote the
preface to the book.
M: When you graduated with your Ph.D. at the University of Oregon, where did you go?
D: I went directly back to South Africa. I had an offer while I was still a student from the
University of Northern Illinois. But at that time I wanted to go back. I thought I
would go back and get a good job and make a difference in South Africa. So I
went back and found very quickly that a great deal of suspicion [existed] about an
American-trained young academician, particularly one who was a little bit
hotheaded and little bit immature, I would say.
M: What suspicion was there?
D: Well, just the fact of having me trained in America was frowned on. In the hard
sciences, it was different. Somebody could come over here and go back as a
agricultural expert, as a chemist, or as a nuclear physicist, anything like that.
They immediately went in and got very prominent jobs. I came back as a person
who had worked in the social sciences and was going to come back and teach
and critique interpersonal relations into group relations, which was bad. It was
bad. [Laughter] As I say, the first thing [I did] when I got there I applied for a
research grant, which I got to work in the Kalahari among the San, Bushmen.
And then, just about a month later, I got the offer from the University of
Stellenbosch to come lecture there. I took that, and the other one I let go
because I could not do both. The grant for the research among the San had
been a full-time one. [It] might have been interesting, looking back now, because
there was a major research project that came out of Witwatersrand University
under Tobias, who started working on the San. It might have been another twist
in my career, but I had a wife. I had two kids at the time, and I could not just drift
off into the Kalahari Desert to go do research. I think the family expected at this
time [that] I would take a job. I went to the University of Stellenbosch and started
M: How long did you stay there. What led you to come back to the United States?
D: I taught for two years at Stellenbosch, published the book on the and
essentially got very negative responses from officialdom to the point where they
threatened to discontinue the line that I was in at Stellenbosch. I called Monica
Wilson that night and she said, "Oh, you can start here tomorrow morning."
M: Who is Monica Wilson?
D: The University of Cape Town. And so effectively I taught two years at University of
Stellenbosch, did the People of the Valley research, published a number of
papers while I was there, I did one on the class and caste system [in] South
Africa and one on cooperative development and one on politics and change--all
of them at that time. [This] was just unbelievable to local people because at the
time I was the only one with a doctorate. I was teaching as a junior lecturer
under two people without doctorates, who never published a damn thing! And
here I came. All of this, I think, was part of the resentment--here I came in red
hot from America and used to ... the whole mode of lecturing was different.
Monica Wilson said, "Come over to Cape Town." So I did, and then I applied
back here immediately and got the job here.
M: At the University of Florida?
D: At the University of Florida. Let me just say about the teaching at the University of
Stellenbosch. Instead of teaching the way in which I had been taught, I required
students to think, which was something novel in South Africa. As I say, the better
you can regurgitate and reflect what the professor has said, the better your
grade. I walked in and I said, "I want you to think. I want you people to present
your own views." I did a course for the seniors, senior undergraduates, on
culture change theory. The first midterm that I gave them--I can see it in front of
my eyes. I was sitting at the desk and there were rows here and the students
came in and sat down. There must have been about fifteen or sixteen, I think.
And Kotze, this guy who became professor was in the class sitting in the left
back. And there was a young lady, she must have been about twenty, twenty-
one, sitting on the right front. I handed out the paper, and the paper required
them to outline theory and present their own position and argue that position. I
made it clear from the beginning that I did not expect them to agree or disagree
with me, but they had to know why they held the position they held and they
should be able to defend the position they held. I remember her sitting there and
watching this paper for a long time. Then I just saw large drops running from
each eye and dripping on the paper in front of her. She got up, oh, after about
ten, fifteen minutes, and came by the desk to put down here paper. I said,
"Young lady, I am sorry. In my class, you are not allowed to leave until the two
hours are over. Go back and try." She went back and I saw her look up and she
started. One word. And then a sentence. And then she started to think. She
graduated with a very strong exam at the end of the year. They had never been
required to think. They had never been asked to take a position, to stand away
from the material and to interpret it and present their own views. They always
were taught just to regurgitate. I think there was a bit of a change that I had
brought in there as well.
M: Speaking about theory in anthropology, which theory or part do you subscribe to?
There are many.
D: I cut my teeth, of course, on structural functionalism, and I think that I remain a
functionalist in neofunction. I am not structuralist anymore, because I like
Stransactionalism and I am a functionalist there. It is clear that things
people do are there because they have meaning, because they function. I think
it makes sense to me to look at things in that light. In terms of my whole culture,
I am in the Barnett school of cultural theory of abstract ideational, etcetera,
M: What led you to apply to UF? How did you know UF existed?
D: In American Anthropologist Newsletter you can write in and advertise. There was
just not academic freedom. I had to sit under two guys without doctorates, and
they were dominating me. All of these things came together, so I wrote to the
American Anthropological Association--young anthropologist, Ph.D. Oregon
1963, Africa, etcetera, etcetera. I thought of myself as an Oceaniaist at the time
because I had worked in New Guinea. I had written and published on New
Guinea. In fact, I never mentioned Africanist, but I was in South Africa. Then I
mailed it off, and I started teaching at the University of Cape Town. One morning
the secretary came roaring in and said, "You have a call from America." A call
from America--they did not say United States, they always said America. "You
have a call from America." I went and it was Charles Fairbanks from Florida.
[He] said, "We have the beginnings of an Africa program here." At that time
there were only two people in the program. They were just starting out. He said
effectively that [he had a position for an] assistant professor and told me more or
less what was involved and what was required [and asked me if I] was interested.
I said, "Definitely yes. Let me know what the details are." So he cabled them
with the formal offer. In fact, he was at field school when he sent that and said,
"This is the salary. This is the number of hours you would be required to teach,
and things like that." I just cabled back one word--yes. He wrote me a letter and
said they could not pay for travel or for transfer of property, but what he would do
is put me on research salary for a month. I got a month's extra salary to allow
me to ship my books and my few things that we brought with us. Then he sent a
student to meet at Mobile. I never asked him, but that may have been a test as
well. There was one black student in the department, an undergraduate, Jerry
Dean, who was one of the most delightful people I have ever met. When we got
off the ship there he was.
M: You came on a ship again?
D: Came with a ship, but this time into Mobile. There he was with a University of Florida
truck, the archaeology truck, to pick us up. He was a delightful fellow. [We]
drove from there, spent the night somewhere on the coast, and came through the
M: What was your first impression of Gainesville?
D: Green! We came out of South Africa in midwinter. In South Africa midwinter is
desolate, gray, flat ground. We drove all the way from Pensacola and
Tallahassee with all these lawns next to the freeway. We thought they were
lawns. And what they are are just cow pasture that gets mowed, of course, but it
looked like lawns. So beautiful! So green! And the trees! Unbelievable.
M: When you came, who were the professors teaching in anthropology?
D: When I came Chuck Fairbanks was the head of the department. (William E.) Bill
Carter (director of the Center for Latin American Studies, associate professor of
anthropology, appointed 1969) was on the faculty, but he was not here that year.
He was in Seattle, Washington, I think, on peace corps training. It may have
been somewhere else. I knew the name, but he was not here. There was a
young fellow Theron (A.) Nunez (associate professor of anthropology, appointed
1968), who was also at the assistant professor level. [He] was older than I was
because he had been in the military or had done some military service before he
did his Ph.D. at Berkeley. He died of cancer a couple of years ago. There was
Sarah (A.) Robinson (assistant professor of anthropology, appointed 1964), who
had worked on the Nimo Indians in Vancouver, British Columbia, and had just
finished her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. (James A.) Jim Gavan
(associate professor of anatomy and anthropology, appointed 1962) was the
physical anthropologist, as we called them at that point. [He] was interested in
primates. Finally, [he] moved from here to the University of Missouri and became
head there and became a very prominent biological anthropologist. Then there
was Sol Kimball and myself. Sol Kimball had just been appointed at the same
time from Teachers College at Columbia in New York. And I had come from
South Africa. That essentially was the department that first year. We were
housed in a little hut a little bit south of where the French Fries are
now. There were a number of huts that were set up after the
second World War that were located in that area. We were in one of them. The
building had a front office, Fairbanks' office, two small offices, bathrooms, an
archaeology lab, and a small teaching classroom. And that was it. That was the
M: Who were the oldest members? Are you one of the oldest faculty members in
D: I have been here the longest. I am not the oldest.
M: Yes, yes. The longest.
D: But I have been here the longest. After me came Bill Maples. I came in 1966. I
think he came in 1968. Then (Paul L.) Doughty (professor and chairman of
anthropology, appointed 1971) came in 1971. (Otto 0.) von Mering (professor of
anthropology, appointed 1971) came after that. But I have been here the
M: What about the prospect of you being selected or elected as the chair of the
D: Never entered my mind to even be available for it. As you know, I love the quiet of
my office. I like to have students in and out. I like to do research and write.
Administration never interested me in the least, so I just continued to do my
M: What courses did you teach at first?
D: When I came, I was willy nilly the Africanist. So I started Peoples and Cultures of
Africa and Introduction to Cultural, and interchanged with Nunez on the
Anthropology of Religion. Then we developed a couple of new courses. This
was late sixties, early seventies [there] was a great interest in urbanization. So I
developed a course in African urbanization and the spinoff from that an area
course on African content wherever. I taught a course in Oceania, but found that
there was very little interest in Oceania here. I taught, for a number of years,
Cultural Revitalization, which looked both at culture change and theories of
change, but also specifically at revitalization, cults and stuff like that.
[I] taught Cultural Anthropology for a number of years, [and] then for a while did
not teach much undergraduate. In about 1979 or 1980, somewhere in there, (H.
Russell) Bernard (professor and chairman of anthropology, appointed 1979)
came. He asked me to do a Human Sexuality class, so I shared with Dr. Wolfe
the Human Sexuality class from then on. [I have taught] Migration and Ethnicity
classes. There was also a time in the early seventies when not only on campus,
but in the United States there was an interest in drugs and drug information and
drug research. That was the time when this department was involved in major
research in Africa--my own--in Costa Rica the Carter group, and in
Colombia, I think it was, Bill Partridge. There was major research going on, and
there was interest, so I developed a course called Drugs and Culture in which we
looked at everything from psychedelic mushrooms growing in the cow pastures
to opium, always looking at the cultural context of drug use.
M: Dr. du Toit, you have been here at the University of Florida since 1966. What
dramatic changes have you seen in terms of turnover of faculty, turnover of
students? What noticeable [changes] has come to your attention?
D: Well, I arrived here near the end of August, beginning of September, 1966, and to
talk about only one major changed would be impossible, because dramatic
changes have taken place over thirty years, almost twenty-nine years. I think
some of the most dramatic activities occurred during the late sixties and
seventies with the Vietnam period and Vietnam activities, student activities, sit-
ins, takeover of Tigert Hall, the student population at the time--the way in which
they reacted, the way they dressed, the prevalence of pot on campus, the swing
back toward more the conservative, and the swing back toward liberalism.
[There were] major changes in the growth of the University, of course, in terms of
going from about ten or twelve thousand at the time to over 37-38,000 now. The
building expansion took place, but I think [what was] more dramatic was the
population increase in students and faculty. I do not think that the building
expansion has kept pace with the student increase so that we have larger
classrooms, crowded conditions, and a little bit of dissatisfaction both among
faculty and students as far as that goes. The times have changed, of course.
The kind of work that we did--the emphasis originally was on ethnographic
teachings, a strong emphasis on teaching basic information--[has changed].
The move increasingly now toward teaching applied discipline [has come about].
The emphasis of preparing for work other than teaching anthropology--the way
in which we have taught--[has changed]. [We are now] preparing people to do
something else. Changes have taken place in the African Studies Center into
which I came. Originally, [it was] a very small, core group that was essentially
people who were doing research and writing about Africa [and] were also
teaching about Africa. Then there was a great awakening, great interest in Africa
at the time, and many students took African courses, large courses, during the
seventies. Then during the eighties that interest faded again. We maybe see a
bit of an upswing now, but not very much. The main interest in Africa, I think,
was a decade a half ago. Since then, we have a sustained interest, but not a
great interest, in Africa. The Africa studies faculty is expanded in terms of people
who are interested [and] participate in some way or another [and has
incorporated] cross-disciplinary people from health-related professions,
agriculture, law, nursing, etcetera, etcetera. People who have an interest in
Africa--in the 1960s and 1970s [we] would have called [it] a marginal interest--are
now directly involved in Africa studies, even serving on the executive
directorship. Some of the people who directly teach, research, and write about it
are directly involved. If we look at the department, of course, we went from a
faculty of four in 1966--Fairbanks was the chair, Bill Carter was here, Theron
Nunez and Sally Robinson, and in 1966 two people came in Solon Kimball from
Columbia and myself from South Africa-- We had a relatively small space. We
were housed in one of those World War II huts next to a sinkhole
where today there is a large building. There were a number of those temporary
huts, and we were in one with about four or five offices. There was not even an
office for Solon Kimball because he was housed in the chemistry building near
the library. The department was small in graduate students. I think there were
about twenty graduate students. This was just, therefore, an undergraduate
department with a few master's students. There was one person who had
received a master's degree, Alice (H.) Murphree (research assistant in medicine,
appointed 1968), who was teaching in health-related professions. Then in 1967-
1968 we added a couple of people. Maples came in. Hardman (M.J. Hardman-
De-Bautista, associate professor of anthropology, appointed 1970) came in. We
had a visiting biological anthropologist who was here shortly, Frank
Then the department started to grow. We brought in a national team to look
over the possibility of expanding to a doctoral program and received very
favorable evaluations. Then the department moved into a doctoral program. At
the same time, we also moved into the current Dauer Building and occupied one
little corner. I remember Charles Fairbanks wanted to look at the fireplace
behind the fireplace and tore down the wall and found a fantastic old painting that
dated from time of Jennings Bryant who had been here at the time. That was a
transition. From there faculty scattered again. Some of us, in the meantime,
moved to Grinter Hall, which as the international studies building opened, Latin-
American people moved to the third floor and the Africanist moved to the fourth
floor. In the meantime, General Purpose Building A was built, what is now called
Turlington, and the department moved into the basement. The first doctorate, I
think, was awarded in 1969--somewhere in there. Gwen (Kennedy) Neville
(Ph.D. awarded in 1971) and Barbara (Ann) Purdy (professor emerita,
anthropology) were the first Ph.D.s. Barbara Purdy joined the faculty as an
archaeologist. From there on, it is really a history of growth, of increase, both in
terms of resident graduate students and in terms of faculty increase, greater
specialization, greater expansion of offerings, in-depth courses, until we were
recognized as one of the top five or top ten, at least, in the country in terms of
faculty productivity, faculty activity, research, graduate student quality, etc.
M: Dr. du Toit, you had, I believe, started a Center for Climacteric Studies in 1980.
M: In 1986 it closed.
D: Yes. In the late seventies, 1979-1980, a colleague of mine in obstetrics and
gynecology, Morris Notelovitz (appointed 1974), who happened to have been
from South Africa as well (I did not know him until we got here), became
interested in an overall study of women and aging. I had, by that time, become
interested in the aging process. He and I sat down for a number of hours and
explored the possibility and then decided to organize what became known as the
Center for Climacteric Studies--climacteric, of course, meaning the rungs of the
ladder. It comes from the Greek klimaterikos, namely the climacteric, the steps
that people go through as they reach the end of their lives. And in the case of
women, particularly the end of the reproductive age marked by menopause. So
we started this project with the idea that I would control or guide the work in the
social/cultural/psychological area, and he would guide the work in the
medical/clinical areas. We went down to Arthur Jones, who at that time was the
owner of a very large exercise machine [company]. After a number of meetings
with him, we were taken under his wing. He not only paid for the building that we
moved into to be refashioned, refurbished, but also gave us a complete set of
exercise equipment. Arthur Jones was the owner of Nautilus at the time. We
started in with a major project, looking at exercise as a way of countering bone
deterioration, particularly with calcium absorption, strengthening of the bone,
whether exercise could do this, whether simply walking could do it, or whether
calcium and other additional intake could be used along with it. There was a
series of samples of women that we dealt with, control groups, some of whom did
Nautilus exercise, some of whom did walking, some of whom took calcium and
hormone replacement, etcetera. The project started out fairly well; the idea
started out fairly well. In 1984-1985, I went off to South Africa to do a focus study
specifically on menopause, and the book was published as Aging and
Menopause Among Indian South African Women. The focus of that study was
directly within the realm of the climacteric center with the idea that here was a
psychological, anthropological study of aging and menopause among women
and this would fit into the model. But by the time I came back in 1985, Morris
Notelovitz had decided that he would rather go into private practice. There was a
lot of bad relations that developed as a result of that, partly because he thought
that he could use the Nautilus equipment, whereas Arthur Jones had given it to
the University, not to us personally. When Morris Notelovitz left the University,
he also, of course, left the protection and support of the Arthur Jones award.
There was a court case about it, which ultimately, I think, was settled. I was
willing to support Arthur Jones in this because I was in on the whole deal that
[the gift] had been [made] to the University, not to us, not to the Climacteric
Center. When Morris left, I think left with some bad relations both in the
Obstetrics and Gynecology Department as well as with some of the other people
in the University. With him out of the Center, people asked me whether the
Center would continue because at least I was still there. I did not see my way
open to continue, and I thought that the strength of the Climacteric Center was
the fact that it was multidisciplinary, that we did have the biological, medical
component, clinical component on the one side and the
social/cultural/psychological on the other so that our philosophy of looking at the
whole woman would have changed in any case. So the Climacteric Center kind
of fizzled out in 1986. That is the history of the Climacteric Center.
M: Could not somebody from gerontology ...
D: Well, it would have to have been not from gerontology, because that may very well
have been the same psychological from the behavioral sciences. It would have
had to have been somebody from obstetrics/gynecology, from the medical
center, somebody who was interested in aging and who had, perhaps, been
working in this area already to move in and take Notelovitz' place. That did not
materialize immediately. I did not go fishing for somebody to step in, and the
thing just faded.
M: You have taught a course titled Folk Medicine for quite some time, which is related to
medical anthropology. What stimulated your interest in this little subfield?
D: I think I have always been interested in that component. Let us call it "that
component" without designating what it is. I have always been interested in
religion, and I started teaching the Anthropology of Religion course. In the
process, I became interested in drug use and led a major quarter-of-million-dollar
grant that the University of Florida was awarded from the National Institute on
Drug Abuse. In the process, I became interested in the use of preparations,
herbal or other kinds of preparations, both in religious contexts and in healing
components so that if we look at the altered state of consciousness, we are
looking at as being induced by self-inducement, by mind over matter, or induced
in other people, or induced as a result of drugs--inhalation or ingestion, etcetera.
Early on in the seventies, in that atmosphere of the late sixties, early seventies,
Vietnam and that whole philosophy, I developed an interest in drugs and culture
in which I looked at mind-altering substances, cannabis, of course, and drug use
in other cultures in the world, and drugs in this country--anything from
mushrooms in the cow pasture to grass, marijuana, which was available all over
and used all over. And out of that, I think, came an interest in
ethnopharmacology as such. From the pharmacological interest came the
ethnopharmacology. The first time that I taught the course before it was listed as
a course, I taught it under an individual [study] and called it ethnopharmacology.
Students took that, and what we looked at was pharmacological products that are
used in healing contexts. One cannot look at that without looking at the religious
component and without looking at the belief component. Gradually,
ethnopharmacology became folk medicine, and the folk medicine became an
expanded course which looked at healing and ritual and substance use and
traditional surgery, etcetera, throughout the world, essentially, originally, again in
a precontact situation. But the way I do the course now very parallel to national
health systems, either parallel or horizontal where people move from a traditional
into a national health systems or sometimes where both of them exist at the
same time in certain kinds of discomforts or diseases are treated in traditional
sense and others are treated in terms of the national health. The people
themselves very often make a difference between discomforts, illnesses that are
of traditional origin or internal origin and spirit-caused or locally caused versus
introduced from outside caused by outside agents.
M: You have written the most of all your works on marijuana use. What stimulated your
interest in marijuana?
D: Well, at the time--this was the late sixties, early seventies--there was an interest in
the national government on marijuana use. There was a young man who was
working in India at the time or up in Nepal. The United States was going to fund
a major research project on cannabis use in India. India and the U.S. had a
falling out. At that time India was playing kind of a diplomatic game of being
neutral and corking the east as well as corking the west. And I think at that
particular moment, they may been corking the east that there was a bit of a
diplomatic fallout. The money could not be spent in the India research. Eleanor
Carol, who was a sociologist with the National Institute on Drug Abuse in charge
of the research, came down to Florida and asked whether we might be interested
in doing a project like that. The anthropology department jumped at it, of course.
I said yes I could do it in Africa. Doughty and Carter--Carter was the leader, I
think. Doughty became interested in doing one in Costa Rica. In the summer of
1971, I went to South Africa and went to all the archives and museums and did
an overview of what was known, what was available and collected literature
information. [I] came back and almost overnight wrote an application which went
to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and was funded for two years in the field,
1972-1974. We were in South Africa doing the research [and] started out with
marijuana use or dagga research among blacks. But in time, I expanded it to
look at other drugs as well and to look at other ethnic groups as well so that the
material that came out of that was fairly extensive. I worked, then, for the
following two years, 1975 and 1976, on analyzing the data and writing it up and
getting it out. There was really almost a five-year period that I was directly
involved with that in various phases and various publications that resulted from
M: You have written a number of books on a variety of topics. Which would you say is
your most popular or best-selling book so far?
D: I think Druqs, Rituals, and Altered States of Consciousness was very widely used
and translated into a number of languages that I know of. If I start back at the
beginning of publications, the first book, Beperkte Lidmasstskap, which we talked
about earlier dealt essentially with secret societies and the focus was on the
Ultraconservative secret society. Restricted Membership the
subtitle, the title translated, was interesting, but it had limited distribution because
of the language. It was written in Afrikaans. Shortly after that, I published
People of the Valley, which is an ethnography of an isolated Afrikaner
community. That was very popular and was sold out fairly soon. I have had a
number of people who have since been looking for the book and have written me
or second-hand bookstores that have written me and asked whether the book is
available. Some people have suggested that it might be interesting to reissue a
book with current information that is known about this. As I say, Drugs, Rituals,
and Altered States of Consciousness was a popular book. Migration--of course,
there was a long period of migration studies in the seventies and eighties, and I
have done a fair amount of studies in migration and did the two volumes coedited
with Helen (I.) Safa (professor of Latin American Studies and anthropology,
appointed 1980), which came out of the Anthropological and Ethnological Society
conference that took place in 1975 in Chicago. That also has been used fairly
widely. The aging book on menopause has been [used] fairly well, but again, it is
focused in terms of topic of menopause and aging and women and Southeast
Asia in terms of being Indian. It [received] very good reviews from India, which I
appreciated. There are two studies, two little books that came out on student
use, and those, again, have been fairly
M: Student use of marijuana.
D: Drug use among students in South Africa. It was a product of the 1974 survey of
twelve high schools, but then I was able to do another study after the 1984, when
I did the ten-year spread. The second book has time depth [and] goes back to
the exact same schools with the exact same questionnaire. It shows us over a
ten-year [period] what kind of changes have taken place. The schools at that
time in South Africa, of course, were divided by the racial classifications so that
we had black schools and white schools and Indians schools and colored
schools. As I said in the introduction to the last publication, that was the last
opportunity that that kind of study could be made, because luckily now schools
are integrated and there will not be ethnic schools anymore.
M: Do you have plans to do any major publication in the near future?
D: Partly as a result of this diaspora study of migration and ethnicity, which I have been
teaching and doing research on, I had the opportunity to follow on two major
migrations off to the Anglo-Boer war. Boers refused to submit, after fighting
guerilla war against the British for three years and the women and children being
in concentration camps. The men, when they came back, refused to submit to
the British crown, lay down their arms, and swear loyalty to the queen in Britain.
Many of them left South Africa. There were three major migrations. One was to
Argentina in 1903 and 1905. I had the opportunity, luckily, to go to Argentina in
1989 and work in that community. There is a major publication Colonia Boer,
which is in press and will be out later this year. I followed up on the second
major migration, which took place in the southwest United States into what was
then New Mexico territory and Texas and into Chihuahua in Mexico. In 1991 I
had the opportunity to go down there. There is a book with the University of El
Paso, Texas Press that is coming out in July, I think, which is the second phase.
The third group left South Africa at the same time but from another part of South
Africa [and] went up into east Africa and established, in fact, a fairly strong colony
in Kenya and remained there. I remember even in high school, when I was in
school, children in Kenya were sent back to South Africa for schooling. And so
there is a third group and I now have an application in with the funding agencies
for the summer to go to Kenya. It will be more of a historical study than the other
two, although the other two were very strongly historically based. This will be
perhaps even more of a historical study, but I have asked for money to go to
Kenya and from there to South Africa to the archives again and to do the third of
these studies. What I would like to do then is, having these three major studies,
is start looking at themes which reappear in all three. Why are certain aspects
retained and others not? What were the different conditions under which these
three communities, which, after all, were born by the same conditions and
produced by the same forces, why did some of them retain their identity for a
longer period than others. What aspects were retained, etcetera, etcetera?
D: I had the opportunity of dealing specifically with this community of elderly colored
people and looking at the process of aging, the experience of aging. I have also
got some very interesting material on folk medicine use which comes back to my
folk medicine course and my interest. In this case, a real reversal--people who
had used this as children had become sophisticated and moved to urban centers
[and] due to financial conditions, now revert back to the use of I
hope to present this material at the American Anthropological Association
meetings in November.
M: Perhaps a final question. You are almost sixty years old now. What do you hope,
what do you plan to do between now and when you die?
D: Well, I am not sure about when I will die. We never know that.
D: I hope it will be thirty years from now. I will continue to teach. I enjoy teaching. I like
being associated with an intellectual, academic institution. Luckily, I am in very
good health and so I see my immediate future as continuing with teaching and
seminars, continuing with writing, which is certainly the thing I like most, and
continuing with research. Exactly what aspect of research, I do not know, but the
new South Africa opens up all new facets of research. There is always the
possibility of taking a sojourn in the Caribbean and looking at an aspect that I
have researched elsewhere, researching that in the Caribbean just to get a good
cross-cultural sample. That is something which I am considering. For the
foreseeable future [I will] continue what I have been doing, namely teaching,
writing, and research.
M: Thank you very much.