The relationship between cultural identity and historical consciousness : a case study of history students at South African universities
This thesis investigates the nature and level of historical consciousness and its relationship with the cultural identity of those students presently studying History at selected South African universities. The overall objective of this research is to determine and measure the nature and level of historical consciousness in a particular population in present-day South Africa. To achieve this objective the study is divided into a theoretical study of the concept of historical consciousness and an empirical study to measure historical consciousness among a sample group by means of a questionnaire. The thesis consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 is an introductory chapter and sets out the aims of the study, the necessity for such a study, the method used (particularly with regard to the theoretical literature study) and also contains a synoptic overview of the contents of the different chapters. Chapters 2 and 3 are based on a literature survey and serve as a theoretical background to the empirical study which is covered in chapters 4, 5 and 6. The second chapter is a theoretical chapter about the concept of historical consciousness, based on a literature survey. Various aspects of historical consciousness - its development, structure, functions, importance, relationship with history education, etc. - are discussed. It serves as an extended definition of what is understood by the term historical consciousness. Chapter 3 investigates the contending cultural identities of the range of cultural groups forming the multicultural South African society. This investigation was done mainly in terms of language, class, gender and religious diversity. The ideal of nation-building - it is the formation of some sort of national identity - is stated and its feasibility evaluated. The significance of history education in the process of nation-building is emphasised. In chapter 4 the method which was followed in the empirical study by means of a questionnaire is set out in detail. Chapter 5 forms the core of the thesis, and contains the analysis and evaluation of the results of the empirical study. Chapter 6 consists of the conclusions and recommendations. It appears from the results of this research that the respondents has formed a sound historical consciousness In order to further develop a sound historical consciousness. I would like to suggest the following: • It is recommended that History should be taken as a compulsory subject in South African schools up to grade 12 because of its suitability in establishing a national identity and contributing towards nation-building, reconciliation and co-operation. • The multilingual policy of maintaining 11 national languages should change to focus on English as the lingua franca and their mother tongue in terms of bilingual policy. • South Africans should perform historical and cultural events/performances in order to understand other culture groups and avoid antagonism and jealousy between cultural groups.
- Humanities