The road to Mamre : migration, memory and the meaning of community c1900-1992

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

This thesis breaks new ground in oral history methodology in South African historiography. It applies an approach to research which evolved from participation in the Masters Students Programme of Community Education Resources at the University of Cape Town. The thesis investigates the process of historical research in Mamre, a mission village fifty kilometres north-west from Cape Town. CER's research methodology provided the basis of interaction between myself as an academic historian and members of the Mamre community interested in researching their own history. Through my participation as facilitator, sharing skills of oral history methodology and resource production, members of the Mamre History Project were able to research and present a new vision of Mamre's history to the community. This thesis documents the process of this interaction and interrogates the meaning of history in the Mamre community. It focuses on the experience of migration in the first half of the twentieth century based on oral testimony from life history interviews of Mamriers born in this era. It also probes how community identity in Mamre is forged over time, and transcends spatial boundaries. Mamriers' community identity incorporates both city and countryside because the common experience of migration to Cape Town began last century and the networks between the two milieux still persist. The study also raises issues of memory and nostalgia in the creation of both individual and collective identity. The aim of this thesis is to discover new ways of making history in the academy and in the community; and to break down barriers between the two audiences.

Includes bibliographical references.