The Meta-narratives of South African history

Seminar date: 
24 November 2011
15.30 - 17.00u
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Seminar room: 
1A47 (first floor)

In this seminar, I will reflect on my experience, with colleagues, of editing the Cambridge History of South Africa, the second and final volume of which was published recently. I will discuss the various ways in which historians of South Africa have chosen the plot-lines they have used and thus organized their material. All are essentially politically driven, since in South Africa, history and other social sciences, like war, are the continuation of politics by other means. The most important, and those I will discuss are, first, around nationalism, whether British, Afrikaner or “the struggle”; secondly, around social and economic stratification, both Marxist and anti-Marxist; and, thirdly, around the changes of social relations and the breakdown of kinship as the basis of social order. In all cases there are historians who have organized their arguments by attempting to counter the opinions of their colleagues, so that anti-narratives are of great importance.

Read the paper (pdf, 190KB)