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Conclusion: Knowledge And Colonialism

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Chapter Summary

The history of the searches for the South African unicorn reveals a scientific attitude that partly deviates from what was generally acceptable in Europe at the same time. Two aspects in particular are striking. First, that the belief in the existence of a unicorn in South Africa was fanned and kept alive by indirect evidence. Second, the scientific ratio could be turned against itself in the absence of hard evidence, as the quotation from Barrow shows. On the whole, researchers at the end of the eighteenth century were no longer very interested in assimilated Khoikhoi. Their interest in the colonists was mainly determined by politics and aimed at demonstrating the reprehensibility of the Dutch colonial system or of colonialism. To put it starkly: in the relation between science and colonialism, it was science that was the imperialist party in eighteenth-century South Africa.

Keywords: Colonialism; Conclusion; Khoikhoi; Knowledge; scientific attitude; South African; unicorn

10.1163/ej.9789004177437.i-314.59
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