Dr S. Modiri Molema (1891-1965) : The making of an historian

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dc.contributor.author Starfield, Jane
dc.date.accessioned 2008-12-05T11:33:27Z
dc.date.available 2008-12-05T11:33:27Z
dc.date.issued 2008-12-05T11:33:27Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/5872
dc.description.abstract This thesis finds that Dr SM Molema made a considerable contribution to the construction of the history of black people in South Africa, and was the first African historian to do so. Yet, he and other African writers were marginalised from the mainstream twentieth-century canons of South African history. Therefore, the thesis investigates the reasons for which Dr Molema (a medical doctor) became an historian and an ethnographer in 1920, and explores the nature of his critical engagement with the ways in which these disciplines represented black people. To understand the controversial treatment of black historical writers, this study appraises South African historiography and its tendency to construct debates about black people, while rendering black writers marginal to such debates. Further, the thesis explores the generic complexity of Molema’s work and finds he wrote in a hybrid genre, autoethnography. This complexity may have contributed to the many misreadings of his work. This study outlines the generic specificity and implications of autoethnography and finds that, like autobiography, autoethnography has been one of the genres of the Self (of personal testimony) that, under colonialism and apartheid, many black writers employed in providing corrective versions of mainstream versions of South African history. Autoethnography enabled Molema to represent his own life, but — more importantly — that of his community (the Rolong boo RaTshidi of Mafikeng) as a form of cultural translation for readers at home and abroad. Methodologically, the thesis understands that Molema’s own family history played a large part in motivating him to write history. In order to explore this relationship between the experience of history and its representation, the thesis has a dual structure: the first four chapters present biographical studies of three generations of the Molema family: Chief Molema, the founder of Mafikeng, his son Chief Silas Thelesho Molema, and Silas’ son, Modiri Molema, the historian and ethnographer. Chapters Five and Six present an exposition and critique of his first work, The Bantu Past and Present. Dr Molema’s biographies of Chiefs Moroka and Montshiwa are used as ancillary texts. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Autoethnography en
dc.subject Life Genres en
dc.subject historiography en
dc.subject biography en
dc.subject African History en
dc.subject Molema en
dc.subject Plaatje en
dc.subject Mafikeng en
dc.subject ANC History en
dc.subject Rolong boo RaTshidi en
dc.title Dr S. Modiri Molema (1891-1965) : The making of an historian en
dc.type Thesis en


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