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Volume 60, Issue 2, 2008
Introduction : approaching oral history at the Centre for Popular Memory : feature : oral histories in South AfricaSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 169 –174 (2008)More Less
At its dialogic centre, oral history research methodology involves interactions between an interviewer eliciting and listening to a narrator framing and performing their memories through spoken words, sentences and stories. But oral history per se, as this South African Historical Journal collection will demonstrate, is much more than interface between interviewer and interviewee. This is because oral history is constructed through dialogues about memory, ways of 'writing' and 'speaking' words, diverse forms of dissemination and archiving, and multiple ways of interpreting memories and stories that reveal the nuances of subjectivity, agency and identity formation. South African oral history as a research methodology and practice has moved from its humble beginnings in the 1970s to its resurgence in the post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) period.
Turning up the volume : dialogues about memory create oral histories : on method : research, dissemination and archivingSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 175 –194 (2008)More Less
This article sketches an overview of South African oral history since the 1970s and argues that while oral history projects have grown rapidly since 2000, insufficient attention has been given to international debates about memory, myth and subjectivity. It then explores the conception of oral history being constructed by 'dialogues about memory', and how this furthers our understanding of narrative, agency and identity formation. This conception also compels us to reflect on the position of the oral historian. The article then argues that 'traces', especially the mental imagery evoked during acts of remembrance, have implications for conducting and interpreting oral history dialogues. This is in a context shaped by post-apartheid memory politics and our anxieties over the fragility of memory traces and the urgent desire to record and conserve before these traces are lost. But dialogues about memory continue to creatively produce oral histories in the present.
The divergence between artistic and academic dissemination of oral history : beyond the archive - from the spoken word through performance to moving images : on method : research, dissemination and archivingAuthor Pascale NeuschaferSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 195 –208 (2008)More Less
This article explores the creative uses of oral history beyond the archive. How does the artistic framing of oral history create an invaluable public platform for the voices behind the stories? Traditional oral history for research purposes is undoubtedly a wellspring of information which unfortunately often remains under-utilised in the archive. In terms of popular and accessible forms of public dissemination, the merits of artistic dissemination of oral history in the form of video documentaries and performance are discussed. The article focuses on Street Stories (a series of documentaries shot over three years by the Centre for Popular Memory) and on Cargo, a physical theatre collaboration between Jazz Art and the Magnet Company.
What lies below : exploring constructions of collective memory in archival collections : on method : research, dissemination and archivingAuthor Renate MeyerSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 209 –225 (2008)More Less
This article interrogates relationships within and between oral history narratives and how such constructions affect the reading / analysis of both individual and collective oral histories. Within this field, a number of issues need to be considered. Some of the most prominent include the process of recording a life story; the play between archiving a dynamic narrative within an archival system of categorisation and how a particular narrative affects the reading of other narratives within that collection. It is also of particular interest to explore how such layering remains dynamic, fuses or separates as time goes by and collections grow.
Negotiating identity and displacement among the Somali refugees of Cape Town : on identity : displacement, removals and memoryAuthor Meritt BuyerSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 226 –241 (2008)More Less
Somalis form a growing proportion of the Cape Town refugee population. Forced to contend with poverty, xenophobia, unemployment and displacement, their stories offer a perspective on concepts of identity and belonging among refugees. Spatial displacement and the violence and fear that is behind it often leads to disruption of one's sense of home and belonging, the loss of family or family structures, and a change in lifestyle, all of which are central to one's construction of identity. This article explores the way in which Somali refugees create a collective identity that incorporates their nationality and their clans as well as their refugee identity. The ways in which they prioritise these three aspects is influenced by their current circumstances and their individual histories.
Coloured and black identities of residents forcibly removed from Blouvlei : on identity : displacement, removals and memoryAuthor Ammaarah KamishSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 242 –257 (2008)More Less
The paper seeks to identify the differences in memory between coloured and black residents of Blouvlei from the 1930s to the 1960s. In particular it looks at residents of an area in Retreat, Cape Town that no longer exists, known as Blouvlei. It examines how people?s memories of the same period are vastly different owing to their different life experiences and how they relate those stories in the present. Blouvlei was declared a coloured area in the 1960s by the National Party government and therefore black people were forcibly removed from the area. The article aims to highlight the lives of 36 people and their views on life in Blouvlei and the various areas to which they were moved. More generally the paper looks at the importance of race, class and whether race is the determining signifier, or whether it is class that separates groups. It also identifies various times in Blouvlei?s history, namely before, during, and after forced removals. The article therefore encompasses issues such as race, class, identity, life and politics in Blouvlei in this period.
Memory, conscience and the museum in South Africa : the old pass office and court : on identity : displacement, removals and memoryAuthor Gerard RalphsSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 258 –274 (2008)More Less
The old pass office and court in Langa was a site of apartheid brutality. In its day-to-day workings, the court found thousands of South Africans guilty of 'crimes' that were only crimes in the radically unjust society that the apartheid government cultivated. This paper explores how residents from Langa have remembered the site of the old pass office and court through the lens of oral history. In doing so, it asks how the site, now the Langa Museum, may become a space of memory, identity, and political conscience and consciousness in a post-apartheid context. What insight and wisdom lie embedded in Langa residents' oral histories about the old pass office? And how can oral historians, Langa residents, museum and heritage practitioners, and visitors to Langa access and utilise the transformative narrative power of these site-stories in the shifting contexts of the site as an emergent social history museum? At what point does the old Langa pass office cease to be a dark space of apartheid, and begin to become a space of post-apartheid humanity and creativity? Indeed, can the Langa Museum become a 'living' social history museum? What would a transformation of this nature entail for oral history, Cape Town's memory communities, community-based heritage practice, citizenship, and identity in the South African postcolony?
Constructive Engagement? Chester Crocker and American Policy in South Africa, Namibia and Angola 1981-8, J.E. Davies : book reviewSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 275 –276 (2008)More Less
Constructive engagement has been the subject of considerable scholarly attention. Christopher Coker's The United States and South Africa was followed a decade later by Alex Thompson's Incomplete Engagement. Now another decade later, Joanne Davies has produced a clearly written and well-structured analysis, which supersedes earlier work.
Source: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 276 –277 (2008)More Less
This lengthy memoir begins with Eglin's early life in the Western Cape, then proceeds through his early political career in the United Party, the formation of the Progressive Party and his role in the latter from the time he was elected a Progressive member of parliament in 1974 to the years in which he led the party, both before Frederick van Zyl Slabbert took over and again after Slabbert resigned from parliament in 1986.
The Hottentot Venus : The Life and Death of Saartjie Baartman, Born 1789 - Buried 2002, Rachel Holmes : book reviewAuthor Simone KerseboomSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 277 –279 (2008)More Less
The fictional aspects of Holmes's work are what places it in the category of a popular historical biography rather than an academic text. Despite this, the biography is the first comprehensive text about Baartman where her entire life and post-repatriation experiences are discussed, and presents a solid introduction for those unfamiliar with her life story and its significance in South African history.
Author Johan PottierSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 279 –281 (2008)More Less
Recent transitions to democracy in sub-Saharan Africa are often accompanied by the seemingly contradictory experience of excessive violence and war; ruptures commonly attributed to 'state failure' or 'state collapse'. Contributors to this volume reflect on the contradiction, and on the scope for change, by placing violence in historical perspectives that consider how memory and notions of the past impact on contemporary politics and culture.
Tradition, Culture and Development in Africa : Historical Lessons for Modern Development Planning, Ambe J. Njoh : book reviewSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 281 –283 (2008)More Less
The areas / institutions Njoh uses to expound his argument are: the traditional African family; the traditional land tenure system; gender and property inheritance; the traditional African administrative system; traditional resource mobilisation strategies; traditional healthcare and healing strategies; as well as traditional architecture and housing. His argument is that each of these areas / institutions has the potential to contribute to development but they have all been misconstrued by the West and are dismissed out of hand. Njoh delineates the gaffes made by Western scholars and provides an alternative interpretation of what each of these institutions meant and could mean for development.
Sorcery and Sovereignty : Taxation, Power, and Rebellion in South Africa, 1880-1963, Sean Redding : book reviewAuthor Maanda MulaudziSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 283 –285 (2008)More Less
Sorcery and Sovereignty provides a fresh perspective on the otherwise commonplace connections between taxes, colonial rule, apartheid and resistance. From its origins as a thesis and concerns with resistance, Redding has shifted the focus of his book to the wider cultural interpretation of resistance and violence and the connection between tax payments as a ritual and African belief in the supernatural. Without reducing everything to these beliefs, he avails himself of the opportunity to explore the complex ways rural Africans understood and constructed their worlds and how they fashioned their political behaviour under colonial and apartheid rule.
Author Graeme CallisterSource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 286 –287 (2008)More Less
Benito Mussolini, the Fascist Italian leader who came to power in 1922, had the unique and dubious distinction of being overthrown not once but twice by his own countrymen during the Second World War. His initial fall from grace, in July 1943, was followed by his installation by the Germans as leader of the North Italian Republic later in the same year, a tenure that ended with the luckless dictator being executed by his own people and his body strung up on public display in the Piazzale Loreto in Milan in April 1945.
A select Bibliography of South African History : Journal Articles, Review Articles and Theses 2006 : bibliographySource: South African Historical Journal 60, pp 288 –301 (2008)More Less