The South African Empire Research Group

This group brings together historians from Southern Africa, Switzerland and England doing research within the conceptual framework of the South African empire.

South Africa’s history in Southern Africa is rooted in its history as an expansionist state entangled with the developments of the whole region – arguably the history of an emerging empire. Obvious features were colonial authority in Namibia throughout much of the 20th century, its regional economic expansion and, at times, military hegemony. Besides classical themes like labour migration from the whole of Southern Africa to South Africa, recent research on South Africans and Namibians in exile in Southern African countries during the Apartheid era has gained prominence, as well as research on the emergence of the borders of the supposed South African empire.

Apart from the current political and economic legacies of this imperial past, South African museums and public history institutions resonate with the collections from the empire, though with little understanding of how these collections and institutions shaped history and consciousness in South Africa. Whilst its metropoles, e.g. Cape Town or Johannesburg, seem to have largely forgotten their imperial past, the peripheries increasingly define and enhance their reflections and research about this (former) empire.



Martha Akawa (University of Namibia)
Dag Henrichsen (Basler Afrika Bibliographien & University of Basel)
Luregn Lenggenhager (University of Zürich)
Giorgio Miescher (University of Basel & University of the Western Cape)
Ciraj Rassool (University of the Western Cape)
Lorena Rizzo (University of Basel & University of the Western Cape)
Jeremy Silvester (Museums Association of Namibia)
Anna Vögeli (Basler Afrika Bibliographien & University of Basel)
Marion Wallace (British Library)