Archiver > SOUTH-AFRICA > 2010-03 > 1269158962

From: "Denise Whitehead" <>
Subject: Re: [SOUTH-AFRICA] SOUTH-AFRICA Digest, Vol 5, Issue 98
Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2010 21:09:22 +1300 (New Zealand Daylight Time)
References: <>

I don't have any fixed opinion in this debate although I am enjoying the

Can I please just offer a point of view as a novice doing research about
my family,. I don't care whats its called.
In NZ there is a powerful Maori concept known as TURANGAWAEWAE. Literally
translated TURANGA (standing place) waewae(feet). This then means 'A place
to stand'. Our Turangawaewae is the place where people feel especially
empowered and connected. It is the foundation, our place in the world, our
Another word is WHAKAPAPA this is the Maori word for genealogy, but
literally means "to create a base or foundation" Whakapapa are ways in which
people come into relationship with the world, with people and with life.
As a South African born person who has lived in New Zealand 43 years, I
think of New Zealand as my home but South Africa is my Turangawaewae. When I
return to South Africa for visits I feel connected to the land and the
people, it is where I stand.
My membership of this site has contributed to this feeling by helping me
create a foundation, and layering and adding to that foundation.
It is through the kindness , support and generosity of many of you who have
led me down the genealogical/historical path back to my ancestor Pieter den
deen Erasmus. You have given me more than you'll ever understand. You have
helped me connect back to my foundations and my place in the world. You have
helped me identify my Tuangawae and for that I thank you.
I congratulate Shelagh O Byrne Spencer on her work, my research will never
be worthy of a doctorate and may even be the "wishful linking" Mansell
Upham talks about but my God has it excited and inspired me to keep seeking

Thank-you all
Dee in NZ

-------Original Message-------

Date: 21/03/2010 8:19:06 p.m.
Subject: SOUTH-AFRICA Digest, Vol 5, Issue 98

Today's Topics:

1. Re: Shelagh O'Byrne Spencer (Francois Greeff)


Message: 1
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 11:07:22 -0000
From: "Francois Greeff" <>
Subject: Re: [SOUTH-AFRICA] Shelagh O'Byrne Spencer
To: <>
Message-ID: <003a01cac81d$856388a0$902a99e0$>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

We must be careful not to use Genealogy and Family History as fully
interchangeable exact synonyms, because the two have significantly different

Genealogy 1. Descent traced continuously from ancestor; pedigree. 2. Study
of pedigrees. (Oxford Dictionary & Thesaurus)

Family History is the systematic narrative and research of past events
relating to a specific family, or specific families.

Source: Greeff, Francois. 27 October 2009. "The Difference between Genealogy
and Family History". Genesis, Issue 24:9.

For a detailed explanation of the difference, please see the article in
I agree that straighforward genealogy might not be history, but on the other
hand, if one person had mapped out a family tree of the South African
population in a single work, such as SA Genealogies, then that person would
have completed research worthy of a doctorate. Besides that, Family History
is undoubtedly real history. Family History is increasingly appearing at
Universities. Among others: University of Dundee, University of Leicester,
University of Cambridge, University of California, University of Lancaster,
University of Sheffield, University of Adelaide (Australia), Edinburgh
University, and a few South African Universities are slowly beginning to
introduce Family History modules among the undergraduate courses of history

Also see: The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History by David Hey,
1996, Oxford University Press. (David Hey is Emeritus Professor of Local and
Family History at the University of Sheffield.)

Besides, if one can do a masters degree or a doctorate about playing the
guitar or the violin or a harmonica, then why should one not be able to do
the same level of study in Family History?

You can do a doctorate about drawing cartoons, about superman, clowns,
unicorns, snails, bees, fish, knee caps, used motor car tyres, gabions, the
bow and arrow, bells, or about jokes, about facial make-up, or body
piercings. A friend of mine did his doctoral thesis on the tenderness and
quality of ostrich meat. (JAMES SALES received a PhD on the quality aspects
of ostrich meat in 1994 at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Thereafter he conducted research on nutrition, management and behaviour of
farmed ostriches in South Africa, China, Australia, Malaysia, United Kingdom
and Chile; emus in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia; and rheas in the
United Kingdom, Chile and Argentina. He received a second PhD in aquaculture
nutrition at Rhodes University, South Africa, in 2002.

Why not Family History?


-----Original Message-----
From: Geoff Chew [mailto:]
Sent: 19 March 2010 23:21
Subject: Re: [SOUTH-AFRICA] Shelagh O'Byrne Spencer

Slightly against my better judgment, because I am aware that this is an
issue that Francois holds dear, I think I should wear my academic hat for a
minute and say that in my opinion too (for what that is worth) family
history should NOT be a field for doctoral research within a university
history department. Genealogical research is one of the important
subsidiary techniques available to the historian; but genealogy is not
history, because it usually rests on too many unexamined assumptions about
the position and historical significance of the family in society - because
to do anything else might torpedo the whole genealogical enterprise.

So as a family historian, I take a somewhat different attitude from that of
a professional historian, and there is, and I think should be, a line drawn
between genealogy and history in the professional sense.

Shelagh Spencer's work has been largely genealogical, it is true; but she
does put the genealogy to work in producing wider historical interpretation,
in a way that places her firmly in the tradition of academic historians of
Natal going back to Alan Hattersley, whose work sought to interpret the
whole movement of the British settlement of Natal in historical terms. It
is hugely to the credit of the University of KwaZulu-Natal that it has taken
the decision to honour this (at a time when political correctness might have
made it want to sideline such historical work), and I think the award is one
for historical work in the broadest sense, and not genealogy as such.

Whether or not the University of South Africa decides that genealogical
research is something that could be undertaken within a doctoral programme
is, of course, up to them, but I think they may jeopardize their academic
reputation if they do, and I would certainly myself look askance at degrees
awarded on that basis.

Spoken, absolutely admittedly, by one who is committed to family history

Best wishes


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End of SOUTH-AFRICA Digest, Vol 5, Issue 98

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