TERRIFIC MAJESTY, the powers of Shaka Zulu and the limits of historical invention

: Hamilton (C.)

R 240.00
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278pp., map, illus., paperback, Reprint, Cape Town, (1998) 2017.

 

Hamilton has brilliantly and with great clarity used the literary methodology of deconstruction to counter those who would see in colonial writing simply inventions of the ‘other.’ What Hamilton says has far wider implications for the possibilities of writing the history of preliterate peoples.There are historical constraints and limits attached to the metaphorical use of Shaka and of ‘Zuluness’ which leave it open to different interpretations, but which have an irreducible core recoverable through careful sifting. The great value of Hamilton’s work is that she shows how this can be done by actually doing it herself." Shula Marks, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London

Carolyn Hamilton’s new book is not a history of Shaka; it is rather a history of the histories of Shaka, an attempt to understand [its] changing presentations. This might, at first glance, seem a thoroughly postmodern kind of project, hinting at a fascination with history as representation rather than a concern with what actually happened in the past. But at its best it is more than this, as Hamilton presents very real debates about what did happen, and she does so in the face of a profound, bitter and not infrequently violent historical controversy.” Justin Willis, The Times Literary Supplement

 

Carolyn Hamilton is Associate Professor on Anthropology, University of the Witwatersrand