The state of research on, and study of, the history of the South African liberation struggle

OUTPUT TYPE: Conference or seminar papers
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2015
TITLE AUTHOR(S): G.F.Houston
KEYWORDS: HISTORY, LIBERATION STRUGGLES
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9017

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Abstract

This paper consists of two broad themes. The first explores the state of research on the history of the South African liberation struggle. The focus is on relevant publications by South African and non-South African academics. The hypothesis explored here is: While there has been a significant explosion in research on the history of the liberation struggle by South African scholars since 1990, a large proportion of research outputs on the history of the liberation struggle is being produced by non-South Africans. Although there are various reasons for the relatively poor research capacity and achievements in this area, including under funding of research, South African academics are in some ways responsible for this situation. The second theme focuses on the state of the study of the history of the liberation struggle. The first hypothesis explored here is: While the history of the liberation struggle has received increasing attention in the history curriculum at school level and there has been a corresponding increase in the number of high school students taking history as a subject of study, this has not led to a significant increase in numbers of history students at the tertiary level. The second hypothesis explored is: While the history of the liberation struggle constitutes an important element of the country's history, very little attention is given to this topic in the curricula of relevant university departments. The result is that such departments have made themselves irrelevant by failing to include history that is relevant to the majority of students. The overwhelming majority of South Africans are consequently not exposed to a formal education on the history of the liberation struggle beyond what they get at school. This has direct consequences for the development of research and scholarship on this topic.