Review article: Jacob Dlamini and the Hidden History Tradition of South African Historiography




hidden history, struggle history, environmental history, conservation history, social history, South African historiography


Hidden histories are pervasive globally, particularly since the advent of ‘history from below’ as social history in the 1960s. Jacob Dlamini’s body of work is firmly located within South African historiography’s hidden histories tradition and practice. His most recent studies, both published in 2020, Safari Nation: A Social History of the Kruger National Park and The Terrorist Album: Apartheid’s Insurgents, Collaborators, and the Security Police, are a remarkable contribution to this practice, indicating the purchase it has in developing and improving South African historiography. This article seeks, first, to demonstrate how Dlamini’s Safari Nation deepens and enriches environmental and nature conservation historiography by incorporating the traditionally marginalised experiences of black South Africans in the making of the Kruger National Park and the development of nature conservation and leisure in South Africa. Secondly, it demonstrates how The Terrorist Album contributes to and improves South African struggle history through the telling of an often neglected or overlooked interface between surveillance technology and subterfuge in the liberation struggle.

Author Biography

Edwin Smith, University of Pretoria

Edwin T. Smith ( is an Extraordinary Lecturer in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria where he is reading for a PhD degree in History. He is the author of Immortal: A Poetic Memoir for Vuyisile Miles Smith (2016) and Umalusi (The Shepherd): A Collection of Xhosa Poems (2023). Email:






Review Article