Archived News | Return to News Center

April 15, 2013

ULM Marriage and Family Therapy faculty publish major article about ancient culture

Dr. Bradford Keeney, professor and Hanna Spyker Eminent Scholars Chair in Education, and Dr. Hillary Keeney, adjunct faculty in the University of Louisiana at Monroe's Marriage and Family Therapy program, have published a major article that proposes a way to understand the Kalahari Bushman way.

The world's oldest living culture of southern Africa, the Kalahari Bushmen (or San), have long been the study of anthropology and have been the subject of considerable debate among academics, especially regarding how to understand their ritual life, Keeney said.

Dr. Chris Lowe, of the Department of African Studies at the University of Oxford said the Keeneys' contribution "is the only work saying anything new and that it makes complete sense. It feels absolutely right. Their work helps enormously."

The Keeney's article, "Reentry into First Creation: A Contextual Frame for the Ju/'hoan Bushman Performance of Puberty Rites, Storytelling, and Healing Dance," has been published in the "Journal of Anthropological Research."

Based on more than 20 years of fieldwork, the Keeneys propose that Bushman ceremonial life is an enactment of their origin myth, where they experience a reentry into the original time of creation.

In that mythological realm, called "First Creation," there is no language to encapsulate life. Without narratives that "solidify" and limit experience, all possibilities for change remain open, including healing, renewal, and transformation, according to the Keeneys.

Dr. Megan Biesele, one of the original members of the Harvard Kalahari Research Project writes, the Keeneys' "excellent paper is really important, and opens the way to a whole new avenue of understanding."

Dr. Stephen Tyler, a founder of both cognitive anthropology and postmodern anthropology, and former professor and endowed chair of anthropology and linguistics at Rice University, praises the paper as a major contribution to anthropology and has been inspired to write that "Dr. [Bradford] Keeney is the most creative scholar I have had the pleasure of working with. He is always at the cutting edge of anthropology and psychotherapy."

Brad Keeney has been honored in a permanent museum exhibit at the Origins Centre, a world heritage museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is recognized as one of the major historical figures who has contributed to understanding the origin of human culture.

The Keeneys are currently writing a major academic book on the origins of the world's first religion and healing practice based on their Bushman fieldwork.

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.