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Paul Landau's book Popular Politics in the History of South Africa receives prestigious award.


Paul Landau's book, Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400-1948 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), was awarded a Melville J. Herskovits Finalist Award (one of four such), for the best new book published in 2010 in African Studies.

The Herskovits Award is presented by the USA-based African Studies Association (ASA) to any author whose book is considered the most significant academic work in English during the previous year. The award is in honour of Melville J. Herskovits, one of the founding members of ASA.

Landau’s book has already garnered attention, as one reviewer, Professor Terence Ranger from Oxford University, points out: ‘This is a greatly ambitious and remarkably successful book. Landau has confronted most of the challenges now facing southern African historians and proposed resolutions to them. We now see that 'tribe' and 'ethnicity' are constructs dating from no earlier than the nineteenth century. For the first time Landau asks what forms of consciousness and organization preceded them. Landau takes his stand in the highveld, reaching out both north and south. His book will have to be taken account of by every southern Africanist.'

Cambridge has the privilege of having one of its publications awarded the prize in 2011. The accolade went to Ugo G. Nwokeji’s The Slave Trade and Culture in the Bight of Biafra: An African Society in the Atlantic World published in 2010. Another Cambridge publication won the prize in 2008, namely, Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585–1660 by Linda M. Heywood and John K. Thornton.

Launch of Landau´s Popular Politics in the History of South Africa held at the Book Lounge in Cape Town


Cambridge welcomed a new addition to its Cambridge Africa Collection with the launch of Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400-1948. Author, Paul Landau met with an engaging audience last night (28 October 2010) at the Book Lounge who were enthused by the books’ refreshing view of socio-political history in Southern Africa, spanning the pre-colonial era to the onset of Apartheid.

Landau, who hails from the University of Maryland in the USA, spoke about how the book addressed the void and misconceptions in the history of southern Africa’s indigenous peoples and aimed to uncover the ‘truth’ of indigenous people’s perceptions and how they mobilised predating the diverging voice and pen of colonialism.


Prof. Ciraj Rassool, from UWC’s History Department was also present to give a brief introduction of Landau’s academic work. Cambridge is confident this landmark publication will generate energetic discussion in future.

Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400-1948
Author: Paul S. Landau
ISBN Paperback: 9780521179263
Published: October 2010
Price: R260.00

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Blurb


Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400–1948 offers a newly inclusive vision of South Africa’s past. Paul Landau presents a history of the politics of the country’s people, from the time of their early settlements in the elevated heartlands, through the colonial era, to the dawn of Apartheid.

Paul S. Landau is an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is co-editor of Images and Empires: Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa (2002) and the author of The Realm of the Word: Language, Gender and Christianity in a Southern African Kingdom (1995). Professor Landau’s work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of African History and the Journal of Religious History.


Reviews

‘Paul Landau’s masterful work opens up fresh lines of research by ambitiously narrating the history of South Africa’s southern highveld, beginning with its peopling and earliest settlements and carrying the story through to African social movements in the early twentieth century. He challenges scholars to rethink how they write the history of southern Africa.’
– Robert R. Edgar, Howard University

‘Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400–1948 is original and thought-provoking. Landau makes the important argument that the idea of entrenched ethnic identities was a product of the period of European colonialism and that a very different set of political assumptions had long animated regional politics. Landau similarly rethinks the meaning and uses of Christianity in exciting and innovative ways. Telling gripping and often moving tales, he demonstrates remarkable erudition, drawing on original sources in several languages and ranging widely in his research. This is a terrific book.’
– Elizabeth Elbourne, McGill University

‘Paul Landau uses his linguistic genius to probe the meaning of ethnicity and tribal affiliations in South Africa. His investigation revolutionizes our understanding of the past for all of Africa south of the Zambezi. Textbooks will need rewriting, starting now.’
– Norman Etherington, University of Western Australia

‘This is a greatly ambitious and remarkably successful book. Landau has confronted most of the challenges now facing southern African historians and proposed resolutions to them. We now see that ‘tribe’ and ‘ethnicity’ are constructs dating from no earlier than the nineteenth century. For the first time Landau asks what forms of consciousness and organization preceded them. Landau takes his stand in the highveld, reaching out both north and south. His book will have to be taken account of by every southern Africanist.’
– Terence Ranger, Oxford University


About the series

The Cambridge Africa Collection aims to bring together the best scholarship dealing with a diverse range of topics in an African context. It is limited for sale to countries in sub-Saharan Africa.


Submitted by Kashief Gamieldien, Academic Sales and Marketing Assistant, Cambridge University Press African Branch

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