Department of Historical Studies Department of Historical Studies


Department of Historical Studies

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​​​​​​​Welcome to the Department of Historical Studies!

We are a group of eight scholars whose research specialities are in various aspects and regions of South African history from the early modern era through to the present. Studying history enhances our understanding of how the world we live in has come to be, and our awareness of how societies and different cultures function and change over time.

The skills which historians possess include the ability to conduct different kinds of reseaerch using archival, oral and literary sources, amongst others. Additionally, they possess the ability to read critically and write articulately, making and analysing arguments on the basis of evidence. These sought-after skills are crucia​l for work in the fields of journalism, heritage practice, education, government/civil service as well as non-governmental and corporate work.​

Originally founded in 1967 when the Rand Afrikaanse Universiteit (RAU) was established, and subsequently merged with the Vista University history department in 2005, our department is currently going through a particularly exciting phase of reinvention, with considerable changes in staff and innovations in curriculum development. Areas of research and teaching specialisation in the department include:

  • South African history
  • African history
  • Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean worlds
  • gender and family history
  • labour history
  • histories of slavery, empire and colonialism
  • the history of religion
  • Apartheid and Afrikaner nationalism
  • urban history
  • the history of entrepreneurship and consumption
  • the history of war
  • public history
  • historiography​