Reflections on a journalistic history-writing project of North-West University


  • Cornia Pretorius North-West University, South Africa
  • Johann Tempelhoff, Professor North-West University, South Africa
  • Johannes Froneman, Professor North-West University, South Africa



Popular history, Journalistic history writing, Corporate history, North-West University merger, Historical present, History of mentalities, Populêre geskiedenis, Joernalistieke geskiedskrywing, Korporatiewe geskiedenis, NWU-samesmelting, Historiese hede, Geskiedenis van mentaliteite


There has been a significant growth in journalistic historical writing since the start of the new millennium. Its “popular history”-approach also appeals to conventional historians, as well as literary scholars. Recent publication Forging unity, the first ten years of North-West University, fits into this historiographical genre.
In the execution of the project, the interpretation of the available evidence was bolstered by two strategies familiar to historians – the history of mentalities and the history of the present.
The project confirms an epistemological overlap between journalism and historiography, but the disciplines pose theoretical and methodical challenges when they are used in concert. Some potential epistemological conflicts emanate from the context, while others emerge in an increasingly complex world in which both journalists and historians have been rethinking their understanding and representation of the past, present and future.
In the article, the conundrum of historical and journalistic history comes under scrutiny in the field of corporate history, which, in itself, can pose a multitude of challenges to writing independent institutional history.


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