"For future reference": The Mamathola Removal of 1958 and the making of apartheid
"One may make one's own history", said Marx, "but not in the circumstances of one's own choosing". The argument in this paper is that, the production of particular versions of history may be inversely related to their makers' choice over the circumstances in which they are made. For example, in a situation of increasing powerlessness, one may be drawn to a sense of a time when one's power was greater. That sense may turn the past into metaphor. That sense is a kind of knowledge. It is not the knowledge that lives in facts and figures, but it certainly lives with them. It is their casing, their skin. To use another metaphor, a sense of the past is a basic perceptual operating system. This is not the carefully considered, philosophically integrated ideological position of the serious historian; nevertheless, most people have such operating systems. History in this sense is a system of narration, a way of apprehending the world.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented, May 1990
South Africa. History, Apartheid. History. South Africa