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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg August 1, 2019

Negotiating Public Participation through Dance and Drama Techniques: A Roundtable Discussion on the Challenges of Public History Work by the Isikhumbuzo Applied History Unit in South Africa

  • Phemelo C. Hellemann EMAIL logo


The Isikhumbuzo Applied History Unit (IAHU) of Rhodes University History Department specializes in innovative methodologies for bringing historical information closer to non-academic audiences. The National Research Foundation of South Africa funds the research work conducted by Isikhumbuzo Applied History Unit. This article shares insights from a reflective discussion that took place February 4, 2019 at Rhodes University. The team reflects on the challenges of doing Public History work in South Africa, particularly drawing attention to the issues surrounding academics and the public when it comes to engaging in research and storytelling exercises that unearth untold stories.

Experimenting with creative arts such as drama and dance as strategies that can improve public participation in historical work, the team discusses how they are bridging the gap between the public, artists, and academics. The views expressed in this roundtable discussion contribute to the reflexive nature of the methodology employed by the Isikhumbuzo Applied History Unit.


The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation (NRF) towards this research is hereby acknowledged. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at, are those of the author and are not necessarily to be attributed to the NRF.

Published Online: 2019-08-01

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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