oa Alternation - Auto/biographical narratives and the lives of Jordan Ngubane

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



In South African historiography over the past two decades, autobiographies and personal narratives have been used to engage with theoretical issues of culture, identity and consciousness, to help recast 'revisionist' accounts of class formation and capitalist development. Life histories have been used to explore the complex web of class, racial, gender and ethnic identifications through which peoples' lives have been shaped, and to address questions of human agency. They have been especially important in approaching history 'from the bottom up', to rewrite South African history in terms of the experiences of ordinary people. This has included work on African politics, with which this article is primarily concerned. African nationalist politics in Lodge's work, for example, has been rooted in 'grass-roots' community experience. In Black Politics in South Africa Since 1945 (1983), he traces the post-war rise of the nationalist movement essentially as a process of interaction between the strata of political leadership and local communities at 'grass-roots' level, each with localised day-to-day grievances and local histories of resistance.

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