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SAHS: Southern African Historical Society 27th Biennial Conference

Date: 24 June 2019 08:00 - 26 June 2019 17:00
Location: Department of History, Rhodes University, Grahamstown
Organiser: Dr Jeneke Thumbran (Phone 0466038985)
Event Type: Conference

This 27th Biennial Conference of the Southern African Historical Society comes barely a year before the 200th anniversary of the 1820 English Settlers who occupied parts of the Eastern Cape including Grahamstown itself, dispossessing Xhosa and other groups. The histories of these settlers were pivotal to the colonisations of what later became Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, as South Africa became a base for British colonialism regionally. The broader southern African region is rethinking the legacy of dispossession: for example, with resource nationalism in Mozambique and decades of radical land redistribution in Zimbabwe, both of which have had significant implications for the region’s economic performance, leading to illegal goods and human traffic. The pronouncement – towards the end of the Zuma era in South Africa – of ‘radical economic transformation’ and ‘expropriation of land without compensation’ signals the need for historians to engage with these crucial issues. Another contemporary concern is the rise of China as a global economic player and its impact on Africa. How could historians of our time examine African economic histories?

This conference happens at a moment when university students in South Africa have made demands for curriculum transformation to reposition Africa in the global knowledge community. Moreover, with the passing of the first generation of post-independence nationalist leaders, historians are faced with the challenge of understanding the postcolonial moment. At this juncture, scholars have an opportunity to re-envision the future of southern Africa’s past. This can be done by rethinking the current historiography and imagining an alternative canon. It is not enough to merely decentre the old, but to also reposition the histories of the vanquished, their environments, their technologies, their pre-existing knowledge systems, social norms and political values.

The SAHS, therefore, invites contributions from professional historians, post-graduate students, and cognate specialists such as archaeologists, archivists, documentary film-makers and heritage practitioners. As the professional body for historical studies in southern Africa, this conference, however, is not exclusive in terms of its focus. We strive to reflect the broad diversity of the discipline in this region and are therefore open to a wide range of themes.

Please see: http://www.sahs.org.za/

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