Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
VAN EEDEN, ES. History, land studies and land claims research - an open debate. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2012, vol.52, n.4, pp. 503-519. ISSN 2224-7912.
In the history of South Africa, with prospects of a democratic system that would meet all the expectations of the people of the country, the year 1994 also required mind shifts with regard to land reform. As a discipline, History broke its long silence. Past studies on land reform and land claims are visible, but for years, historians have not necessarily contributed to research on the topic. Government, as part of its promise to voters and within the limits of democracy, started investigating the status of land distribution countrywide. Shortly after 1994, processes commenced to provide communities and individuals the opportunity, until the end of 1998, to submit motivations as to why a certain area(s)/region(s) belong to them. This article's open discussion is not intended to cover all the events and processes of the past almost 20years conscientiously. Rather, the intention is to put in writing what the role of History as a discipline can or should be in ultimate decisions on claims in respect of land. However, extensive research on this is still required. In this paper, then, the use of history within the discipline of History in the managing of land claims in South Africa is the core issue. History, as a discipline that can provide multiple sources of a diverse nature, will be discussed briefly with the unsettled land claim on the farm Deelkraal IQ142 as an example. A summary will direct the reader towards the value of History in land claims research, but it should not necessarily be deemed as the final decision about land claims. Therefore, it appears that perceptions of the past (sometimes interwoven with power and conflict), may have a tendency to overshadow any possibility of truth or reality. This in itself creates facets ofpower and politics that simply repeat similar previous cycles.
Keywords : History; land studies; land reform; land history; land claims; Deelkraal IQ 142; land research; regional studies; history and land claims; history methodology; historiography.