The South African War reappraised

Editor: Donal Lowry

The neo-classical troopers' memorial of New Zealand, together with others around the former British Empire, illustrates the manner in which the South African War became a major imperial. This book explores how South Africa is negotiating its past in and through various modes of performance in contemporary theatre, public events and memorial spaces. Opinion on the war was as divided among white Afrikaners, Africans, 'Coloureds' and English-speaking white South Africans as these communities were from each other. The book analyses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a live event and as an archive asking throughout how the TRC has affected the definition of identity and memory in contemporary South Africa, including disavowed memories. It surveys a century of controversy surrounding the origins of the war and in particular the argument that gold shaped British policy towards the Transvaal in the drift towards war. The remarkable South African career of Flora Shaw, the first woman to gain a professional position on The Times, is portrayed in the book. The book also examines the expensive operation mounted by The Times in order to cover the war. While acknowledging the need not to overstress the role of personality, the book echoes J. A. S. Grenville in describing the combination of Milner and Chamberlain as a 'fateful partnership'. Current renegotiations of popular repertoires, particularly songs and dances related to the struggle, revivals of classic European and South African protest plays, new history plays and specific racial and ethnic histories and identities, are analysed.

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