Debating some past and present research frameworks and methodologies in history on places and their peoples in South Africa
Van Eeden, Elize S.
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Histories regarding places and their peoples in South Africa can be traced to the early days of History being practised as an academic discipline. However, practising this form of history under (and outside) the flag of regional history was formalised only in the mid seventies, while informalised research practices in the field continued as methods complementing various schools of thought. Narrowly perceived local histories were considered as inclusive of the formalised and informalised regional history practices as knowledge contributing towards a broader understanding of a (geographically defined/ politically demarcated) region. Of interest is not only the historiography in this field (of which a few pointers are shared in this discussion) but some of the frameworks and methods to research and to record regional histories that have been used in the past. Equally of interest are the ways in which these frameworks and methods are still applied and thought of as dynamic and progressive to assist the historian to progress towards producing and packaging research as part of a comprehensive, all inclusive approach in creating knowledge as regional history studies. In South Africa, an extensive debate on how regional history studies should be broadly defined and understood when undertaking research, still falls short. This is due to the variety, diversity and complexity of knowledge contributing to the pool of information that should be packaged as regional history studies. To contibute towards a framework of understanding and packaging knowledge in this field of meaning to regional history studies, the reader is further exposed to an extended structure of perhaps understanding and doing research in this field: a field that has always been regarded as having the potential to be both integrative and multidisciplinary by nature. Yet its integrative analytical abilities also rest on the outcome of narrow-defined histories done on spaces and places before it is possible to embark on bigger research analyses in, for example, the spirit of modern social history applications to regional history studies. This discussion on ways to understand the limited past and present of regional studies (historiographically and methodologically) in South Africa is offered to encourage further debate.
- Faculty of Humanities 
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