Is a Reorientation of South African History a Lost Cause?

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Abstract

After reflecting on the mixed reception accorded to his book, The Great Treks, the author points to the many obstacles that stand in the way of dismantling the customary perspective from which South African history has been written from the late nineteenth to the turn of the twenty-first century. A fundamental reorientation is still needed to free the next generation of scholars and students from narrative templates that have outlived their usefulness. Scientific advances enable us to push the beginnings of human history on the sub-continent back to a previously unimagined antiquity, whose implications have still to be worked out in popular and academic texts. It is equally important to escape teleological narratives which would make 1994 the end of history. In the course of developing these arguments the author takes the opportunity to reflect on the ways that personal experiences and notable encounters during the last four decades of his career have shaped his approach to writing history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-333
JournalSouth African Historical Journal
Volume60
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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