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Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400–1948

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  • Date Published: September 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107614413

AUD$ 59.95 inc GST

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About the Authors
  • Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400–1948 offers an inclusive vision of South Africa's past. Drawing largely from original sources, Paul Landau presents a history of the politics of the country's people, from the time of their early settlements in the elevated heartlands, through the colonial era, to the dawn of Apartheid. A practical tradition of mobilization, alliance, and amalgamation persisted, mutated, and occasionally vanished from view; it survived against the odds in several forms, in tribalisms, Christian assemblies, and other, seemingly hybrid movements; and it continues today. Landau treats southern Africa broadly, concentrating increasingly on the southern Highveld and ultimately focusing on a transnational movement called the 'Samuelites'. He shows how people's politics in South Africa were suppressed and transformed, but never entirely eliminated.

    • Designed to reflect the reality of the new South Africa
    • Narrative-style history
    • De-racialized history of ordinary people
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Paul Landau's masterful work opens up fresh lines of research by ambitiously narrating the history of South Africa's southern Highveld, beginning with its peopling and earliest settlements and carrying the story through to African social movements in the early twentieth century. He challenges scholars to rethink how they write the history of southern Africa.' Robert R. Edgar, Howard University

    'Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400–1948 is original and thought-provoking. Landau makes the important argument that the idea of entrenched ethnic identities was a product of the period of European colonialism and that a very different set of political assumptions had long animated regional politics. Landau similarly rethinks the meaning and uses of Christianity in exciting and innovative ways. Telling gripping and often moving tales, he demonstrates remarkable erudition, drawing on original sources in several languages and ranging widely in his research. This is a terrific book.' Elizabeth Elbourne, McGill University

    'Paul Landau uses his linguistic genius to probe the meaning of ethnicity and tribal affiliations in South Africa. His investigation revolutionizes our understanding of the past for all of Africa south of the Zambezi. Textbooks will need rewriting, starting now.' Norman Etherington, University of Western Australia

    'This is a greatly ambitious and remarkably successful book. Landau has confronted most of the challenges now facing southern African historians and proposed resolutions to them. We now see that 'tribe' and 'ethnicity' are constructs dating from no earlier than the nineteenth century. For the first time Landau asks what forms of consciousness and organization preceded them. Landau takes his stand in the Highveld, reaching out both north and south. His book will have to be taken account of by every southern Africanist.' Terence Ranger, Oxford University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107614413
    • length: 318 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 7 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface: the birth of the political
    1. Eyewitness engagements
    2. History before tribes
    3. Translations
    4. The incipient order
    5. Mixed people
    6. Twentieth-century tribes.

  • Author

    Paul S. Landau, University of Maryland, College Park
    Paul Landau is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of The Realm of the Word: Language, Gender, and Christianity in a Southern African Kingdom (1995) and co-editor of Images and Empires: Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa (2002). Professor Landau's work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of African History and the Journal of Religious History.

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