On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
LIMB, Peter. Terence Ranger, African studies and South African historiography. Historia [online]. 2011, vol.56, n.1, pp. 01-25. ISSN 2309-8392.
Terence Ranger's influence on African historiography and across several sub-genres of the discipline is immense, if not uncontested. The scope of his significant work ranges from urban and rural history, political history (including legitimacy, patriotism/nationalism, resistance and accommodation) and social and political biography to religions and spirituality, culture, tradition, environment and landscapes, human rights, and violence. Across these categories, he helped make African agency a sine qua non for historians. His influence is most pronounced on Zimbabwean and wider African historiography, but what of his influence south of the Limpopo? How did the study and teaching of African History within South Africa draw on Ranger's oeuvre; how was his influence felt on South African historians? I draw on contemporary writings of South African historians from the late 1960s to the 2000s and on recent assessments of Ranger's legacy by a select group of these historians (and Zimbabwean historians in South Africa) to estimate the influence on South African historiography of this giant of African History. Also from South African historians came the most sustained critique of the history of nationalism broadly associated with Ranger. I also narrate and analyse some of Ranger's limited but penetrating interventions on South Africa.
Keywords : Terence Ranger; historiography; South Africa; Zimbabwe; African History; historians; nationalism; culture; agency; African Studies; teaching of History.