William Peter Carstens (1950)
William Peter Carstens (B.A. Hons. in Social Anthropology) died on 5 May 2010, in Toronto, Canada, due to complications from pneumonia and frail health. Born in 1929 in Cape Town, Peter was essentially a sandveld boy from the diamond-mining town of Kleinzee, situated on the Namaqualand coast. His father Capt. Jack Carstens discovered the first alluvial diamonds there in 1926, and his mother, Minnie (Minx) Spiers, was the first school teacher. Peter attended Bishops (Diocesan College) (1940-47) and, after his days at Rhodes, he earned a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at University of Cape Town in 1961, where he taught before emigrating to Canada. His doctoral thesis on the village of Steinkopf was the first (The Social Structure of a Cape Coloured Reserve [Oxford University Press, 1966]) of several books and articles on the social and historical dynamics of life in small communities, both in South Africa (e.g., In the Company of Diamonds: DeBeers, Kleinzee, and the Control of a Town [Ohio University Press, 2001], Diamonds are Dangerous: Stories from the Early Days in Namaqualand, 1925-1960 [Xlibris Corporation, 2006], and Always Here, Even Tomorrow: The Enduring Spirit of the South African Nama in the Modern World [Xlibris Corporation, 2007]) and in Canada, especially among the Okanagan Indian bands of British Columbia (The Queen’s People: A Study of Hegemony, Coercion, and Accommodation among the Canadian Okanagan [University of Toronto Press, 1991]). Peter was full-time professor at the University of Toronto, from 1965, and retired in 1995. He is survived by three children, all living in Toronto, as well as his wife, Chantal. He is also fondly remembered by Madeleine (née Roberts)
Carstens (Toronto), cousins Patrick Carstens (Toronto) and Kenneth Carstens (Durban), and his many friends and colleagues worldwide.