1I've been living with the eighteenth-century residents of the Cedarberg for over a decade. They are not all likable people, but they have made for interesting neighbors in my mental landscape. Their book sprang to life as a research proposal about slaves, then morphed into a dissertation about land tenure. Now it is an analysis of community, with implications for rethinking South Africa's national history.

2The "New South Africa" was really new when I began this endeavor; many individuals and institutions have helped me along the way. My journey to this book included excursions through the Cedarberg, but I did most of the work in classrooms, libraries, archives, and at my own desk, often in the company of extraordinary people. It is an honor to acknowledge my guides and traveling companions.

3I dedicate Belongings to Claudia Wright, the first teacher who helped me see the possibilities of history. At Berkeley, Eugene Irschik introduced me to social history and Helen Ettlinger expanded my notion of what research could be. I doubt they would remember a shy undergraduate in a long procession of students, but lessons from their classrooms have stayed with me for more than twenty years. Markus Rediker pushed me to think about theory and methods that can account for the lived experiences of working people who left too few records of their own. At UCLA I benefited tremendously from the knowledge, generosity, and scholarly examples of Bill Worger, Ned Alpers, and Chris Ehret, who encouraged me to sustain my interest in early-modern history while pursuing specialist training as an Africanist. I am also grateful for Bob Kirsner's patience as I learned both Dutch and Afrikaans. Bill, Ned, and Bob, along with Jan de Vries at Berkeley, formed a supportive dissertation committee that encouraged me to pursue wide-ranging, shifting questions, even when that pursuit kept me in South Africa for four years.

4While far from home, I received invaluable council from Nigel Worden, Antonia Malan, Susie Newton-King, Rob Shell, John Parkington, and Tony Manhire in Cape Town, Robert Ross in Leiden, and Jim Armstrong from various points around the globe. I owe each of them particular intellectual debts, acknowledged in the notes to this book. Their guidance and company, along with that of Gerald Groenewald, Candy Malherbe, Lalou Meltzer, Sandy Rouwalt, and Christopher Saunders make it a joy to work in the "Tavern of Two Seas." I owe special thanks to Gerald as my virtual eyes, finding documents in the Cape Archives when I wasn't in Cape Town. I am particularly indebted to Nigel Penn, who introduced me to the Cedarberg; to Robert Ross, whose role as critic, interlocutor, and careful reader has contributed greatly to my work; and to Roger Beck, whose generous, meticulous reading of the entire manuscript left me humbled—and the book much improved.

5The staff at the Cape Archives is always friendly and helpful. I appreciate receiving permission to reproduce material from the collections and am grateful to Erika Le Roux for helping me to navigate that bureaucracy, as well as for cheerful assistance in the reading room. Thanks especially to Jaco van der Merwe for his ongoing advice in the reading room, and to Peter Jafta for his assistance with reproduction and microfilming. At the Deeds Office, the help of Mike Schoeman and Mr. Wicomb was invaluable. At the Surveyor General's Office, I would like to thank Ken Lester in Mowbray and Eddie Sparrow in Cape Town for the time they took explaining the practice and history of surveying in South Africa.

6While I was a graduate student, my "desk" was really an expanding box of research notes. We moved a lot, that box and me; without friends I could not have managed to pursue research on three continents. I am particularly grateful for the hospitality of the Vet family in Leiderdorp, the Foresters in Somerset West, the Ross family in Gordon's Bay, and Susan Bendel and Daryl Collins in Cape Town, all of whom helped me keep hearth, heart, and box together.

7From archives in the Hague and Cape Town, then back to North America, Kerry Ward and Martha Chaiklin have been stalwart friends and colleagues, sharing translations, carefully reading drafts, offering sage advice and welcome moral support. Kairn Klieman, a model and mentor since graduate school, has been an example of sanity and accomplishment, as well as a trusted sounding board. Stephanie Magid, a constant friend for enough decades to warrant a history of its own, continues not only to tolerate my arcane interest in people long-dead, but to provide unflagging encouragement.

8At the University of Texas in San Antonio, several colleagues read and commented on early versions of various chapters. Thanks to Kirsten Gardner, Anne Hardgrove, Ben Johnson, and Gregg Michel. I also appreciate the unwavering support of Antonio Calabria, the good counsel of Wing Chung Ng, and the valuable research assistance of Cyndi McCowen.

9Irvine has been a stimulating, dynamic, productive, and generous place to live and work. Marc Baer, Sharon Block, Carolyn Boyd, Dave Bruce, Helen Chenut, Alice Fahs, Rebeca Helfer, Julia Lupton, Michelle Molina, Rachel O'Toole, Ken Pomeranz, Kathy Ragsdale, Vicki Ruiz, Uli Strasser, Tim Tackett, and Anne Walthall have all read and commented on at least one stage of this project. Graduate students April Anderson, Lindsay Holowach, Dan Rood, and Laura Sextro provided crucial research assistance; Glen Watt generously shared her careful reader's eye. Four years of conversations with Dan Rood have sharpened my own thinking and expanded my reading, for which I am grateful. Many thanks to Tony Soeller for introducing me to GIS, to Nina MacDonald, Melinda Choudhary, and Bonnie Shea of Pixel Loom for getting me started with the kinship charts, and to Susan Reese for preparing the maps.

10I greatly appreciate the conversations, convergences, and questions that consistently emerge in the meetings of the UC Multi-campus Research Group in World History. I've received many helpful suggestions there; especially from Terry Burke, Ray Kea, Randy Head, and Benjamin Lawrence.

11Thanks to my Past-Tense coconspirators—Thomas Andrews, Kathleen Donnegan, Michelle Nickerson, and Jenny Price—along with all the seminar participants, I am a better writer. Finding a community of like-minded writers in Irvine greatly enhanced my ability to enjoy the process of transforming a dissertation and additional research notes into newly-envisioned book. Lisa Alvarez, Roger Gloss, Bhasha Leonard, and Michelle Mitchell-Foust sustained my faith that this book might have readers outside the academy, while Jonathan Cohen proofread the entire manuscript and provided valuable editorial advice, too.

12Since this book builds on years of work, some of its ideas and evidence had previous appearances in print. Three chapters are adapted from published articles. Chapter Three draws on "Traces in the Landscape: Hunters, Herders and Farmers on the Cedarberg Frontier, South Africa 1725–1795," Journal of African History 43:3 (2002) 431-450. Chapter Six draws on "'This is the Mark of the Widow': Domesticity, and Frontier Conquest in Colonial South Africa," Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, 28: 1 & 2 (Spring 2007) 47-76. Chapter Five had two previous incarnations, first as "Belonging: Kinship and Identity at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652-1795," in Contingent Lives: Social Identity and Material Culture in the VOC World, edited by Nigel Worden (University of Cape Town Press, 2007, 247-265), and then in a revised form as "Belonging: Family Formation and Settler Identity in the VOC Cape," South African Historical Journal 59 (December 2007) 103-126.

13The editorial staff at Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures helped realize my goals for a digital book. Without the hard work of Kate Wittenberg, Nathaniel Herz, Merran Swartwood, Risa Karaviotis, and Emily Molanphy, my ideas would still be just words on a page, instead of text and images to guide readers through the Cedarberg in the eighteenth century.

14All the friendship, intellectual engagement, and moral support in the world cannot, however, produce a book without concomitant material support. I undertook the initial research for this book as a graduate student, serially funded by a number of institutions whose faith in my work is redeemed finally with the production of this long-promised book. A fellowship from the UCLA Department of History, a UCLA Chancellor's Dissertation Fellowship, a FLAS grant from UCLA's Ralph Bunche Center for African Studies, travel support from UCLA's International and Area Studies Center, a Fulbright-Hayes Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, and the Mary Louise Remy Endowed Scholarship from P.E.O. all contributed directly to my ability to work in the Netherlands and South Africa. I enjoyed the extraordinary opportunity of four years abroad devoted to this project. Those experiences enriched my scholarship and my life in ways that year-end reports will never capture. My gratitude for these foundational years will be lifelong.

15More recently, the UCI Humanities Center funded two trips to South Africa for additional research for this book, and the UCI School of Humanities provided assistance for travel to conferences where I was able to get valuable feedback on chapter revisions and new work. The Gutenberg-e Prize from the American Historical Association and the Mellon Foundation provided financial support for travel, research assistance, and technical help preparing the manuscript. The generous funding of an ACLS/SSRC/NEH International and Area Studies Fellowship for the 2005–6 academic year and a 2005–6 UC President's Humanities Research Fellowship gave me the luxury of a year without teaching responsibilities so that I could devote myself full-time to writing this book.

16I am overwhelmed by the time, advice, and material support I've received for this project. Despite all this help, some errors will undoubtedly persist; the responsibility for them is all mine.

17My final words of appreciation are for those who are first in my heart, and who certainly had a right to feel taken for granted in the final months of this book's preparation. My parents, Les and Cosette Mitchell, have stood by me for as long as I have memories. My brother Roger is always ready with searing, witty observations to celebrate life and put the tribulations of work in perspective. Virginia Mitchell and the Elders—Craig, Carolyn, Christian, Colin, and Corrina—have kept my family feeling grounded and at home in Southern California. The Proctors—David and Judy, John, Richard, Treintje, Jade, Steve, Jeanine, Stuart, and Vaughn—enliven our too infrequent visits to South Africa, and have opened their hearts to give me a family there. Most important of all, Graham and Ian fill my days with joy, not letting me think for a minute that family is just a research topic or an intellectual construct. They have shared me with this book, which was too much for me to ask, and yet what I needed. That they could give it is the treasure of a lifetime.