mirage

Contree: 1989 No 26

Boloka/Manakin Repository

Contree: 1989 No 26

 

Contents

No. 26, October 1989

Articles


Book reviews

Editorial

The concepts 'region' and 'regional history'

Regions and boundaries play an important role in the world in which man lives. Regions are usually concrete realities in which communities are specially ordered, politically administered and economically active. Yet a simple definition of the concept 'region' is not only difficult to formulate, but also arbitrary since - according to George Kimble - boundaries which do not exist are often created around areas which do not matter.

Regions nevertheless represent manageable units which are useful for analysis and description. Differing objectives require regions which are delimited in accordance with differing norms or criteria. For research purposes, a distinction is often drawn between formal and functional regions. A formal region is dominated by one or more 'static' characteristics which usually occur throughout the region, emphasizing the unique identity of that region and distinguishing it from adjoining regions. Examples of such homogenous features are climate, soil conditions, vegetation, land use, culture and historical heritage. A functional region, on the other hand, is affected by a significant, ever-changing economic, social and political relationship between a town and its hinterland.

Current trends in history research show a growing awareness that solutions to general historical issues must be sought on the local and regional level. In this case the locality of a region can actually be regarded as a laboratory or heuristic unit where specific problematic social issues can be researched. Some of the most important works adopting the French Annalian approach include regional studies of social and economic history. Such case studies facilitate the analysis of continual interaction between places, as well as the interdependence of rural and urban areas.

A well-known form of regional history is one which studies an area on account of its own importance. The region thus becomes the centre of interest and the ideal is to create a distinct regional identity in which all relevant human activities are reflected. On the other hand, the regional historian can also embark on a study in which the emphasis is shifted from the region to the problem or phenomenon under discussion as being representative of or deviant from a general tendency. By comparing and contrasting the situation in neighbouring regions, a considerably broader perspective is achieved.

Without exception the articles in this issue cover aspects of regional history in all its diversity. Compared with the more formal region context in which the articles on Port Elizabeth and Potchefstroom are presented, the contribution on tin mining in the Water berg area represents a good example of a functional region setting. In this respect Contree fulfils the function of illustrating history at what John Benyon terms 'this important "grass-roots" and "paving-stone" level'.

Redaksioneel

Die begrip 'streek' en 'streekgeskiedenis'

In die mens se leefwêreld speel streke en die afbakening daarvan 'n belangrike rol. Streke is meestal konkrete werklikhede waarin gemeenskappe ruimtelik georden, staatkundig geadministreer en ekonomies bedrywig is. En tog is 'n enkeldefinisie van die begrip 'streek' moeilik en arbitrêr omdat grense wat nie bestaan nie - volgens George Kimble - dikwels getrek word om gebiede wat nie van belang is nie.

Streke is nietemin hulpmiddels wat ontleding en beskrywing binne 'n hanteerbare eenheid moontlik maak. Verskillende doelstellings vereis die afbakening van streke ooreenkomstig verskillende norme of kriteria. Vir navorsingsdoeleindes word meestal tussen formele en funksionele streke onderskei. By eersgenoemde oorheers een of meet bestendige (statiese) eienskappe wat verspreid oor die gebied voorkom en die unieke karakter daarvan ten opsigte van omliggende gebiede beklemtoon. Voorbeelde van sulke homogene kenmerke is klimaat, bodemgesteldheid, plantegroei, grondbenutting, kultuur en historiese erfenis. 'n Funksionele streek daarenteen word beïnvloed deur 'n beduidende dog steeds wisselende ekonomiese, sosiale en politieke verwantskap tussen 'n dorp en sy hinterland.

By die wetenskaplike beoefening van die geskiedenis is daar tans 'n groeiende bewuswording dat algemene historiese vraagstukke juis op die plaaslike en streekvlak opgelos moet word. Sodoende word die plek en streek as't ware 'n laboratorium of heuristiese eenheid waar spesifieke samelewingsproblematiek nagevors kan word. Van die betekenisvolste werke volgens die Franse Annales-model sluit streeknavorsing oor sosiale en ekonomiese geskiedenis in. Sulke gevallestudies vergemaklik die ontleding van die voondurende wisselwerking tussen plekke asook die interafhanklikheid van landelike en stedelike gebiede.

Een van die bekendste vorms van streekgeskiedenis is die studie van 'n gebied vanweë sy eie belangrikheid. Die streek vorm clan die middelpunt van belangstelling en die ideaal is om 'n onderskeibare streekidentiteit te skep waarbinne alle toepaslike menslike bedrywighede weerspieël word. Aan die ander kant kan die streekhistorikus ook 'n studie aanpak waar die klem verskuif van die streek self na 'n probleem of verskynsel wat verteenwoordigend of afwykend van die algemene tendens is. Deur vergelyking en kontrastering met die situasie in omliggende gebiede word die perspektief aansienlik verbreed.

Feitlik al die bydraes in hierdie uitgawe dek aspekte van streekgeskiedenis in sy ryke verskeidenheid. Teenoor die artikels oor Port Elizabeth en Potchefstroom wat in 'n meet formele streeksituasie aangebied word, tree die funksionele streekaard in die bydrae oor die Waterbergse tinmyne duidelik na vore. In die opsig vervul Contree, aldus John Benyon, die funksie om die verlede 'at this important "grass-roots" and "paving-stone" level' uit te beeld.

Recent Submissions

Search the NWU Repository


Advanced Search

Browse

My Account

Statistics

RSS Feeds