The Number of the South African War (1899-1902) Concentration Camp Dead: Standard Stories, Superior Stories and a Forgotten Proto-Nationalist Research Investigation
AbstractTilly extols the power and compass of \'superior stories\' compared with \'standard stories\'; however, in life things are not always so clear cut. A 1906 1914 research investigation headed by P. L. A. Goldman, initially concerned with the enumeration and commemoration of the deaths of Boer combatants during the South African War (1899-1902), later with the deaths of people in the concentration camps established in the commando phase of this war, is explored in detail using its archived documents. Now largely forgotten, the investigation was part of a commemorative project which sought to replace competing stories about wartime events with one superior version, as seen from a proto-nationalist viewpoint and harnessed to the wider purpose of nation-building. Goldman, the official in charge, responded to a range of methodological and practical difficulties in dealing with a huge amount of data received from a wide variety of sources, and made ad hoc as well as in principle decisions regarding how to handle these, and eventually producing \'the number\' as politically and organisationally required. However, another number of the South African War concentration camp dead - one which was both different and also added up incorrectly - concurrently appeared on a national women\'s memorial, the Vrouemonument, and it is this which has resounded subsequently. The reasons are traced to the character of stories and their power, and the visibility of stories about the concentration camp deaths in question the face of the Vrouemonument and their anonymity in Goldman\'s production of \'the number\'. Tilly\'s idea of an \'in-between\' approach to stories is drawn on in exploring this.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Sociological Research Online in its journal Sociological Research Online.
Volume (Year): 14 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
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Concentration Camps; South African War; Proto-Nationalism; Research Methodology; Stories; Historical Sociology; Archival Research; Charles Tilly;
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