DHHS attends HASA conference at Rhodes University

Posted on July 14, 2023

Some twenty Department of Historical and Heritage Studies (DHHS) members, including staff and students, attended the Historical Association of South Africa’s (HASA) international conference held at Rhodes University in Makhanda from 27 – 29 June 2023. The conference theme was “History: New Turns, Fresh Directions and Alternative Avenues” and elicited a range of papers including the following topics: film, contemporary southern African studies, apartheid studies, sport, tourism, Zimbabwe, archives, colonial studies, sport, Zimbabwean studies, identity and queer studies. The titles of the papers presented at the conference, as shown below, demonstrate the variety of interests and scholarly range that the DHHS cohort displayed at the conference.   It was an incredible feat for the DHHS to have such a large contingent attending the conference, with 15 students gaining invaluable intellectual exposure and experience, and for some, at their very first conference.

Prof Karen L Harris (Head of the DHHS), who is also President of the HASA, presented a keynote address entitled “Pushing the Envelope Down turns, Wrong directions and Additional avenues”, in which she considered the changing nature of the status of the discipline of history and how it had now been forefronted as a compulsory subject at school. She encouraged fellow academics to use the discipline as a means to address the poor South African literacy rate by focusing on reading for meaning and other critical skills integral to the discipline. Harris also presented a paper on using the archives as an alternate teaching tool, and Edwin Smith captivated the audience with a presentation on his insight and personal experience with the moving and establishment of the ANC archive from exile back to South Africa during the transition phase. Other staff who presented papers included Dr Abraham Mlombo, who presented on an essential aspect of South Africa and Rhodesian historical links to shape the region in the 20th century. Dawid Mouton presented on experiences of British soldiers in the South African War. This aspect probes important questions in broadening understanding of South Africa’s history at the turn of the 20th century. Sias Conradie gave insight into a larger trend of Chinese communities establishing themselves in Africa with a closer focus on this community in Lesotho. Research associate Eddie Michel provided insight into US administration deliberation on their stance and exchange with apartheid South Africa during the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Bronwyn Strydom of UP Archives presented a paper on the contentious Edgar Brooks.

Overall, the DHHS gave a first-class account of themselves at the HASA conference in Makhanda. It displayed the varied and exciting work undertaken in DHHS and the exceptional standard of work when measured against their counterparts nationally. 

Postgraduate students’ papers:


Justine Binedell, “The Umgeni River: More Than Water”

Motlatje Mogoboya, “Portraits of Perseverance.”

Quin Wash, “Dissecting Dishonored: The Historical World of Videogames”

Contemporary Southern African Studies:

Lisa McDermid, The South African History Curriculum: Nationalist Ideologies & Post-Apartheid Curricula Reforms, 1998-2007.

Sias Conradie, “More than money: the Chinese Lesotho community (1966 - 2022).”

Juanico van der Walt, “Negotiations of Whiteness: All Lives Matter and the Spectre of Racialism in Nonracial Discourse in post-Apartheid South Africa”

Apartheid Studies:

Ruby McGregor-Langley “The Absence of News in the News:  The African Mirror Newsreel and information dissemination, 1969 -1977”

Robyn Schnell, “The person behind the person: uncovering Mendel Levin”.


Osmarien Osunde, “A History of the Nigerian Federal Government’s National Tourism Governance System, 1962 – 2006”

Zimbabwean Studies

Bruce Berry, “Stamping the Colonial Stamp: A History of Rhodesian Identity as viewed through Philately”


Duncan Lotter, “Uppercut or undercut? Sports media, boxing and masculine identity in South Africa during the 1950s.”


Wendy Cox, “Pioneering archivists: women in twentieth century South Africa: MK Jeffreys and JH Davies”

Identity and Queer Studies

Unathi Funde, “‘Manning’ the braai: Tracing the gendering of the braai in public discourse”.

Khanyisile Vuma, ‘Affirming Gender: The Historical Development of Gender Dysphoria in South Africa (1994-2013)’

Dominique Verkerk, “Changing representations of the volksmoeder trope circa 1930s - 2000s in selected films on the South African War”

- Author Dr Abraham Mlombo

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