Taking as its starting point the last line of Norman Maclean’s famous novella, A river runs through it, “I am haunted by waters”, Professor Duncan Brown’s public lecture considers some aspects of the ways in which human identities are mediated by, and imbricated with, natural environments and the plant and animal species they support.
Professor Brown draws on research for a book he is in the process of completing, called Are Trout South African? These fish, introduced to South Africa in the late nineteenth century, and whose continued existence in the country has been heatedly debated, form the focus of the work. In his study of the habitats, history, and pursuit of trout; Brown engages with the universal notions of indigeneity, alienness and belonging; in South Africa and beyond. These questions – often argued in scientific-biological terms – are considered from the perspective of the human-social-symbolic, in what promises to be a thought-provoking and highly relevant interrogation of a range of perspectives on what it is to ‘belong’.
Professor Duncan Brown is Dean of the Arts Faculty at the University of the Western Cape. He has published widely in the field of South African literary and cultural studies, and his books include Voicing the Text: South African Oral Poetry and Performance (1998), Oral Literature and Performance in Southern Africa (1999), To Speak of this Land: Identity and Belonging in South Africa and Beyond (2006) and Religion and Spirituality in South Africa: New Perspectives (2009). He is also a Fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.