What does it mean to be Zulu today? Does being Zulu today differ from what it meant in the past? Zulu Identities wrestles with these and many other related questions to show how the characteristic traditions of a pre-industrial people have evolved into different cultural expressions of ‘Zulu-ness’ in modern South Africa. This authoritative and specially commissioned volume, which contains more collected expertise on the Zulus than is available from any other source, examines the legacies of Shaka, the intrigues of Zulu royalty, gender and generational struggles, cultural and symbolic projections, and spirituality. It highlights the debates in contemporary South Africa over the manipulation of Zulu heritage, whether deployed for party political purposes or exploited to promote eco – and battlefield-tourism. And finally the book contemplates the future of Zulu identity in a unitary South Africa seeking to embrace the forces of globalisation.
‘What does it mean to be Zulu today? Is this different from what it has meant in the past?” To answer these questions the editors assembled a team of fifty scholars, based mainly in North America and South Africa, with a scattering from Britain, and gave them the task of showing how “the characteristic traditions of a pre-industrial people have evolved into different cultural expressions of ‘Zulu-ness’ in modern South Africa” … This is a book which is impressive in every way: in the breadth and depth of its scholarship, in its ability to shed light on key questions of Zulu history and culture, and, not least, in its readability. It is indispensable to anyone seeking to study “Zulu-ness” in all its aspects, and I cannot recommend it too highly. For a scholarly book of over 600 pages, it is also very attractively priced.’ — Africa Research and Documentation Bulletin
Benedict Carton is an associate professor of history at George Mason University.
Jabulani Sithole is a Lecturer in Historical Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
John Laband is Professor of History at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario.