The Chinese in South Africa: a historical study of a cultural minority.

06 March 2012

South African historiography has for the most part been primarily preoccupied with explaining the past in terms of ethnic dimensions. More particularly, race - in its blackwhite paradigm - has been profoundly formative in historical studies of our society. Until fairly recently, the "persistent disinterest in thinking about race and race relations in terms other than black and white" led to various cultural minorities being under represented in the historical record and incorrectly reflected in popular culture. This article briefly considers the lacuna in historiography; outlines some of the research related problems in dealing with a cultural minority; and focuses on the early history of the Chinese community as an example of how such a study adds a different perspective to the larger parameters of South Africa's racially stratified past.