The Embodiment of the Indigenous People by European Travel Writers at the Cape Colony, Southern Africa

Keywords: indigenous people; coloniality of power; coloniality of knowledge; coloniality of being; European travellers; Peter Kolb; Anders Sparrman; John Barrow


This article analyses how European travellers depicted the bodies of indigenous people in their travel narrations. Three travel writers, Peter Kolb, Anders Sparrman and Sir John Barrow, were selected to investigate how the bodies of indigenous people were perceived at the Cape Colony. Grosfoguel’s theoretical framework of the coloniality of power, the coloniality of knowledge and the coloniality of being was used to ground and investigate the coloniality of the body in the Colony. The findings suggest that the portrayal of indigenous people’s bodies by Europeans in their travel accounts has connotations of racial stereotypes, which are characterised by a colonial power matrix of subjugation, hierarchisation, Eurocentrism, dehumanisation and objectification of indigenous people. European travellers used the notion of Eurocentric power, the epistemology of the West and the degradation of “being” to depict the bodies of the indigenous people.

Author Biography

Johannes Seroto, University of South Africa

College of Education, University of South Africa