Southern African Historical Society

Biennial Conference28 - 30 June 2022

Expanding Margins: New and Lingering Questions, and Debates on Southern African Histories

Hosted by the Department of History, and the National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre, University of Fort Hare, East London campus

The Southern African Historical Society Executive Committee (SAHS Exco), and the University of Fort Hare Local Organising Committee (UFH LOC) have decided to include a virtual option for the 28-30 June 2022 Conference, in light of Covid-19

uncertainty, and travel challenges. Appropriate details for conference registration and fees for that option are provided below. Extended deadline: 9th March 2022

The 28th Biennial Conference of the Southern African Historical Society (SAHS) is running a year later than its usual schedule because of the Covid-19 global pandemic, and, is being hosted at the University of Fort Hare (UFH)’s East London campus. The 2022 SAHS Conferences coincides with the 106th anniversary year of the founding of the UFH. In addition, the UFH will be celebrating in 2022 the 30th anniversary year since it took custodianship of the rich archival material, which the major political organisations involved in the struggle against segregation and apartheid donated to the UFH. In the last 25 years or so, some scholars used this vital collection held at the UFH’s National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre (NAHECS) to add to ongoing historiographical revisions, especially onto topics related to broader liberation processes in the Southern African region.

Present-day Southern Africa shares common history, and the colonial governments of the British, thePortuguese and the Germans from the late Nineteenth Century, largely shaped existing geo-politicalboundaries of the region. Such decisive European imposition in mapping out of what later became the Southern African national states, did not however necessarily denote first-time recording and presentationof this region’s past. Nor did it infer immunity against reassessment of current Southern African historiography of conquest, and resultant liberation processes of the Twentieth Century. Even so, the dynamism of people’s ideas in the region, their actions towards socioeconomic plights, and their challenges in pursuing forms of social justices have continued to test postcolonial and post-apartheid Southern African states. Likewise, there have been persistent political contests, readjustments of power institutions, albeit, against unending authoritarianism, and declining space for civil society. All of these trials have occurred not only in testing socio- political, but, also under severe natural environments, exhibited through climate and agrarian change, as well as swelling food insecurities. They have also been displayed in shapes of falling basic rights and rising hardships, such as diasporas, homelessness and job losses. Yet in spite of all these challenges, the scope has continued to widen for further historical research, and production of new historical knowledge.

It is thus envisaged that the 28th biennial SAHS conference will address key questions about the prospects and production of history and engage with complex old and new forces in the Southern African region. This can be achieved by reconsidering and expanding existing historiography, and byrepresenting as well as reporting on hidden histories of the marginalised. In also inviting newly emerging historical insights on intricate forces and the varied people of the region, it is imagined that the conference will provide platform for critical dialogue on Southern Africa’s past, whilst similarly making sense of its present. In addition, the current Covid-19 pandemic poses delicate methodological questions concerning historical production as techniques that revolve solely on conventional use of primary sources are increasingly challenged.

The SAHS invites contributions from professional historians, postgraduate students and related specialists such as archaeologists, heritage practitioners, archivists, museum curators, and documentary film-makers. The SAHS 2022 Conference organisers endeavour to encompass and reflect the broaddiversity of the discipline in the region and consequently wish that the participants at the conferenceencapsulate a broad range of topics, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Disputed principles: historical structures, and changing historiographies
  • Historical Studies, past and contemporary University
  • Archives, heritage and remembrance(s)
  • Forms of history production: analog and digital
  • Creative history: art, drama, imagination and expression(s)
  • Governance and authority systems: from precolonial to colonial and postcolonial Africa
  • Legacies of dispossession in Southern Africa: land, labour, migrancy and language
  • Contested rights to land: histories and politics of land and agrarian reforms
  • Histories and politics of displacement(s): borderlands and mutable human settlements
  • Nationalism, identities and prejudice(s)
  • The militia: insurrection, coups, war(s) and strident reformations
  • Pathways of Gender and Afro-feminism
  • Predicaments of development: international capital, debt and African elites
  • Trade, employment and the Global South
  • Sociopolitical formations and institutional values
  • Indigenous (and Indigenised) knowledge systems: technologies, health and society
  • Medical and medicinal histories: health, wellbeing and healing
  • Unsettled settings: indigence, famine, epidemics and cataclysms
  • Histories, politics and governance of control of water, and other natural resources


We request proposals for sessions in three different formats: papers, panels and roundtable debates. Participants are kindly requested to consider selecting a session format within the suggested broad range oftopics above and their own historical specialisations with the objective of enabling active interaction amongst presenters and respective audiences. Paper submissions should include an abstract (max 250words) and short profile for each participant. Panel and roundtable submissions should include a minimumof three papers (each with a 250-word abstract and short profile of each participant), a proposed moderator/chair (if it is possible) and a 250-word abstract. Please email these to Luvuyo Wotshela, by 31 January 2022. Extended to Wednesday 9 March 2022.

Conference Registration and Fees

The following conference fee structure accommodates hybrid proceedings – amalgamating in-person and virtual presentations. We however encourage those who can travel to grace the inperson proceedings since SAHS conference has not occurred for almost three years. The conference registration fee includes the Welcome Cocktail Reception, conference materials,mid-morning and afternoon refreshments, daily lunches and the Conference Gala Dinner.

Conference registration for both in-person and virtual commences on 25 February 2022.

In-Person Registration Fee

  •   Early-bird registration ends on 25 April 2022
  •   Early-bird registration fee: R2500. Regular fee after 25 April 2022 - R2900
  •   Postdoctoral fellows: Early-bird R2200. Regular fee after 25 April 2022 – R2400
  •   Postgraduate students: Early-bird: R1700. Regular fee after 25 April 2022 – R1900

Virtual Registration Fee

  •   Early-bird registration ends on 25 April 2022
  •   Early-bird registration fee: R1000. Regular fee after 25 April 2022 – R1300
  •   Postdoctoral fellows: Early-bird R750. Regular fee after 25 April 2022 – R900
  •   Postgraduate students: Early-bird: R600. Regular fee after 25 April 2022 – R750

A limited number of postgraduate bursaries to assist with registration fees for in-person attendance are available. Postgraduate students are welcome to apply to the Local Organising Committee for consideration for these bursaries. Please send your application with the proof of your current student status or registration to

Current members and prospective members can contact SAHS Treasurer Anton Ehlers on matters regarding new member applications or renewals at

For more information on the Conference, please email Luvuyo Wotshela: or Nomalanga Mkhize