The Historical Association of South Africa Biennial Conference 

26-28 June 2014

Proudly hosted by the

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Blue Waters Hotel, Durban


In the prologue to The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley claimed that the “past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”. That is certainly true for 1914, for in that year southern Africa was mired in warfare, rebellion, protest and unrest. One hundred years on, it is an opportune moment for historians to reflect upon and reappraise the events of that time. But it is also appropriate to cast our historical gaze towards the more contemporary ‘History Wars’ we are fighting with pens, pencils, paper, print, PCs, paint, propaganda, pomp, parliament, press, power, paintings, pictures and sometimes even pistols. However, while some historians are engaged with warring in its various guises others are going about their work in a more peaceful but equally important manner. Considering the aforementioned, the HASA conference has three distinctly southern African foci, namely:

‘History Wars’

Each era has its History Wars. Some of these are hot wars and others are cold. Durban, the megacity in which this conference is taking place, is a good example of such History Wars with battles being fought on street names; the statues of Shaka and Dinizulu; the proposed statue for Indian indentured labourers; and an artwork comprising three elephants. Other such History Wars have raged in the past or are still being fought on issues as diverse as: memory vs history; heritage vs history; patriotic history; the commemoration or non-commemoration of past events; commercially commissioned official history vs academic history; truth laws; national identities and history; the judicialisation of history; the content of history textbooks; public displays of history; the downsizing of history at educational institutions; archives; minoritised histories; gender; and historical denial and reinterpretation, to mention just some of the issues in which we are embroiled. We welcome submissions for proposals for panels (3+ papers) and individual papers on southern African ‘History Wars’, past and present.

‘Wars in History’

In 2014 we have the centenary commemoration of several significant ‘wars’ in the history of southern Africa: The outbreak of the First World War; the Rebellion of 1914; the protests against the Natives Land Act; the end of the Satyagraha campaign; and the use of the military by Jan Smuts to crush the strikes called by railwaymen and by the South African Federation of Trades. We welcome panels (3+ papers) and individual papers reappraising these events of a century ago.

‘Other Southern African Histories’

The reality of conference themes is that they are many a time overtly narrow and exclusionary and do not necessarily cater for the range of ongoing research projects on the history of southern Africa. At the same time, conferences are the ideal opportunity for scholars to meet, engage and share their work with the broader history community. We therefore welcome submissions for proposals for panels (3+ papers) and individual papers on ‘Other southern African Histories’.

Young historians: As in the past at both the HASA conference and that of our sister organisation, the Southern African Historical Society (SAHS), a strong emphasis will be placed on the development of young historians.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words in, either English or Afrikaans, should be sent to either Johan Wassermann wassermannj@ukzn.ac.za 20 May 2014. Proposals for individual papers and panels are equally welcome. Please include your full name, title, affiliation, contact number and email address in all correspondence. Panel proposals should include abstracts and contact details for all participants. Participants will be requested to act as panel facilitators.

Please note the following important dates:

  • Final submission date for abstracts: 20 May 2014
  • Final notification of acceptance of abstracts: 26 May 2014
  • Final date for conference registration: 30 May 2014

Conference venue: Blue Waters Hotel, 175 Snell Parade, Marine Parade, Durban

Accommodation: Accommodation is available at the Blue Waters Hotel. Call 031 327 7000 or visit www.bluewatershotel.co.za for rates and availability. Numerous other hotels can also be found within walking distance from the conference venue.

Transport: The airport shuttle stops in front of the Blue Waters Hotel. Call Coastal Shuttles on 031 4651660.

Registration Fee: A mandatory registration fee of R2000 for scholars and R1600 for postgraduate students must be paid when an abstract is accepted. The conference fee includes admission to the panels and workshops, conference packages, teas and coffees, buffet lunch for the 3 days of the conference as well as the conference banquet.

We look forward to hearing from you, and to welcoming you to Durban in KwaZulu-Natal in June 2014.