Continuities, contexts and concepts: making sense of Shepstone

Monday, 22 October, 2012 - 15:00

Presented by : 
Jeff
Guy

Locating itself generally within the recent revival of traditionalism in South Africa and developments in colonial and imperial history, and particularly in work on the history of the eastern Cape and Natal in the nineteenth century, this paper examines some of the conclusions drawn about the ideas and the methods of Natal’s Secretary for Native Affairs, Theophilus Shepstone. Shepstone, it is argued, was particularly adept at obscuring the historical record, for reasons which are to be found within the history of the times themselves, and the sources consequently need to be examined with special care. More concerned, however, with conceptual misreading than empirical error, the paper moves from considering the way in which certain historical documents have acquired a status that places them beyond criticism, to the imposition of historical narratives on situations to which the sources don’t apply, to an argument about the fundamental differences between African and intrusive societies within which particular histories can be constructed.

Paper: 

PDF icon Guy2012.pdf

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