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Journal Article

Review: THE OWL OF MINERVA AND THE IRONIC FATE OF THE PROGRESSIVE PRAXIS OF RADICAL HISTORIOGRAPHY IN POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA: History Making and Present Day Politics: The Meaning of Collective Memory in South Africa by Hans Erik Stolten

Reviewed Work: History Making and Present Day Politics: The Meaning of Collective Memory in South Africa by Hans Erik Stolten
Review by: ANDRÉ DU TOIT
History and Theory
Vol. 49, No. 2 (May 2010), pp. 266-280
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40864444
Page Count: 15
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THE OWL OF MINERVA AND THE IRONIC FATE OF THE PROGRESSIVE PRAXIS OF RADICAL HISTORIOGRAPHY IN POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA
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Abstract

Despite its title and stated objectives this edited volume does not provide a broad and inclusive survey of post-apartheid South African historiographical developments. Its main topic is the unexpected demise in the post-apartheid context of the radical or revisionist approach that had invigorated and transformed the humanities and social studies during the 1970s and 1980s. In the context of the anti-apartheid struggle the radical historians had developed a plausible model of praxis for progressive scholarship, yet in the new postapartheid democratic South Africa radical historical scholarship itself encountered a crisis of survival. This should not be confused with a general "crisis" of historical scholarship in South Africa, as some of the uneven contributions to this volume contend, as that remains an active and diversely productive field due also to substantial contributions by historians not based in South Africa. If the dramatic and ironic fate of radical historical scholarship in the context of the transition to a post-apartheid democracy is the volume's primary topic, then it unfortunately fails to provide serious and sustained critical reflection on the origins and possible explanations for that crisis. A marked feature of the accounts of "history making" provided in this volume is the (former) radical historians' lack of self-reflexivity and the scant interest shown in the underlying history of their own intellectual trajectories.

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