mulaudzi, shoeman and chirikure on interdisciplinary borders and the concept of the frontier


M. Mulaudzi, M. H. Schoeman and S. Chirikure, ‘Continuing Conversations at the Frontier’ South African Historical Journal 62, 2 (2010), pp. 219 – 228


Researchers involved or interested in the 500 Year Initiative (FYI) gathered at the University of Cape Town in June 2008 to explore how different disciplines engaged in historical studies may better communicate and collaborate within and between each other. Appropriately titled ‘Continuing Conversations at the Frontier’, participants in this conference challenged themselves to cross the theoretical and methodological borders separating archaeology, history, geography, anthropology and linguistics, in order to understand how and under what influence modern southern African identities have taken shape over the past 500 years. These conversations made it clear that new insights are not only reliant on new data, but that it is equally important to expose our methodologies and processes of gaining understanding. In addition to confronting disciplinary boundaries and methods, social and spatial frontiers were key loci for discussion, although it became apparent that historians and archaeologists have approached frontiers in different ways. We briefly explore the roots of these approaches.

Keywords: 500 Year Initiative; archaeology; boundaries; frontiers; history; interdisciplinary research; methodology; pre-colonial southern Africa

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