mirage

Contree: 1987 No 21

Boloka/Manakin Repository

Contree: 1987 No 21

 

Contents

No. 21, January 1987

Articles


Review article


Book reviews

Editorial

To arrive at a precise or final definition of local and regional history is almost as difficult as practising this branch of historical study. The several attempts which have been made thus far to scientifically formulate or define its nature, substance and field of study, bear ample testimony to this. A group of leading British experts on local and regional history caught up in the same problem, finally concluded: "We don't know what we mean by local history, and we don't care; but we mean to go on with it!"

The explanations of a few experts do, however, to some extent, shed light on the position of what has come to be known as the "Cinderella" of historical studies. In its broadest sense, local and regional history can be described as the reconstruction of the origin, growth, decline or fall of a local community or region (the microcosm). Local and regional history is in fact a series of close-ups of an individual or a group which is historically portrayed in its totality and wide variety. In short, it is the story of human achievements and failures in a specific society, in conjunction and comparison with other units or groups.

Local and regional history may thus truly be considered to be the portrayal of all facets of man's existence. As such it actually forms the basis of and departure point for national history, since a study of the microcosm and man's place therein is indeed an important pre-requisite for a proper understanding of broader historical developments.

The wide scope of local and regional history is reflected in the contributions to be found in this issue of Contree. One article deals with settlement patterns in a vast territory (South West Africa); another depicts life in a Cape Town suburb (Woodstock). In addition, a paper on Black beach labourers in a 19th century sea port (Port Elizabeth), highlights the important issue of inter-group relations and economic interaction in South African society.

Redaksioneel

'n Klinkklaar omskrywing of enkeldefinisie van plaaslike en streekgeskiedenis is feitlik net so moeilik as die beoefening van hierdie takdissipline van die geskiedenis. Hiervan getuig die talle pogings tot dusver om die aard, wese en terrein daarvan te formuleer of wetenskaplik te verwoord. 'n Groep Britse deskundiges wat al met dieselfde probleem geworstel het, het juis tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat hulle nie presies weet of selfs omgee wat hulle met plaaslike geskiedenis bedoel nie - hulle was egter vasbeslote om met die werk voort te gaan!

Verklarings deur 'n paar gesaghebbendes werp tog in 'n mate lig op wat al as die "aspoestertjie" van die geskiedeniswetenskap bestempel is. In die ruimste betekenis van die woord is plaaslike en streekgeskiedenis die rekonstruksie van die ontstaan, groei, agteruitgang of verval van 'n plaaslike of streekgemeenskap (die mikrokosmos). Dit is in werklikheid 'n reeks vlakby-opnames en 'n totaalbeeld van die enkeling of groep wat histories in sy ryke verskeidenheid geteken word. Kortom, dit is die verhaal van menslike prestasies en mislukkings in gemeenskapsverband, in samehang en vergelyking met ander eenhede of groepe.

Plaaslike en streekgeskiedenis kan dus tereg beskou word as die uitbeelding van alle fasette van die mens se lewe. As sodanig vorm dit eintlik die onderbou van en vertrekpunt vir nasionale geskiedenis omdat 'n studie van die mikrokosmos en die rol van die gewone mens daarin immers nodig is om die breë historiese ontwikkeling na behore te begryp.

Bydraes in hierdie uitgawe van Contree weerspieël grootliks die wyd geskakeerde aard van die navorsingsterrein. In die een artikel word vestigingspatrone in 'n uitgesoekte landstreek (Suidwes-Afrika) uitgebeeld, in 'n ander die leefwyse in 'n Kaapstadse voorstad (Woodstock). Daarbenewens belig die bydrae oor Swart strandarbeid in 'n 19de-eeuse hawedorp (Port Elizabeth) die belangrike kwessie van tussengroepverhoudinge en ekonomiese wisselwerking in die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing.

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