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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X

Historia vol.53 n.2 Durban  2008


Ahistorical historiography



Christopher Saunders
University of Cape Town

Full text available only in PDF format.




1. Not only is she not a professional historian, but it is perhaps significant that none of those whose help she acknowledges are professional historians either.
2. K. Smith, The Changing Past (Southern Book Publishers, Johannesburg, 1988); C. Saunders, The Making of the South African Past (David Philip, Cape Town, 1988). I was asked to revise my book long ago, but it seemed to require such major recasting that I have yet not tackled the task.
3. Saunders, The Making of the South African Past; N. Worden, The Making of Modern South Africa (Blackwell, Oxford, 1994).
4. Some of this is also in her chapter in H.E. Stolten (ed), History Making and Present Day Politics. The Meaning of Collective Memory in South Africa (Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala, 2007). She can of course legitimately point to apparent failures by reviewers to read Capitalism and Apartheid properly, but such criticisms are hardly central to a debate between liberals and neo-Marxists, and whether or not her book referred to earlier neo-Marxist writing, is hardly an important issue.
5. This includes my C.W. de Kiewiet (University of Cape Town, Cape Town, 1986), my chapter on liberal historiography in J. Butler, R. Elphick and D. Welsh (eds), Democratic Liberalism in South Africa. Its History and Prospect (Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, 1987) and my "A Liberal Descent? W.M. Macmillan, C.W. de Kiewiet and the History of South Africa", in S. Marks and H. Macmillan (eds), Africa and Empire. W.M. Macmillan, Historian and Social Critic (Temple Smith, London, 1989).
6. Lipton is critical of the way in which those she wishes to recognize as liberal historians have been recategorised as radicals (p 13, note 7), citing in particular W.M. Macmillan (consistently misspelling his surname) and Eddie Roux. While Macmillan was called a radical by Jeremy Krikler and his own son (see the relevant chapters in Marks and Macmillan, Africa and Empire) because he was a Fabian socialist, he remains for me the great liberal historian, even if he was radical in his politics. As for Roux, he began writing the articles that eventually formed Time Longer than Rope when a member of the Communist Party, and to classify him as a liberal because he was involved in the founding of the South African Liberal Party (p 13, note 6; p 189) is very misleading, especially as he was not in fact invited to join that party until 1957 - E. and W. Roux, Rebel Pity. The Life of Eddie Roux (Rex Collings Ltd, London, 1970), pp 171, 208.
7. See our chapters in J. Lonsdale (ed), South Africa in Question (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1988), or the paper I gave at the conference she attended in Denmark in 2002. She lists papers given there by Dubow, Magubane, Stolten and others, but not mine, which was available on the same website before Stolten published his edited collection of the proceedings of the conference in 2007. She cites the 1977 edition of R. Davenport, South Africa A Modern History, as if it were the latest edition, ignoring our joint fifth edition of 2000. She does not mention, say, my article on South African historical writing in relation to apartheid in the Times Literary Supplement, April 1994. She cites nothing from the South African Historical Journal or Historia.
8. For example, J. Seekings and N. Nattrass, Class, Race, and Inequality in South Africa (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2005), p 26: "Marxist approaches rapidly became hegemonic ..."
9. Admittedly, some of the revisionist writers of the 1970s were not professional historians either, but a number were.
10. C. Saunders and C. Simkins, Reviews of "Capitalism and apartheid", South African Historical Journal, 19, November 1987, pp 206-208.

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