Carolyn Hamilton: A Hyperlinked Biographical Note

Carolyn Hamilton, born in 1958, is a transdisciplinary scholar rooted in history. She holds a South African Research Chair in Archive and Public Culture at the University of Cape Town. Hamilton has vast expertise in the area of southern African history in the times before European colonialism.  Over the course of her career, Hamilton has also written extensively about the complex interplay between political, academic, and public discourses and practices and the ways in which, over time,  these shape and reshape historical materials both within and outside of conventional archives.  Hamilton’s recent work has focused on the development of the Digital Humanities, principally through the Five Hundred Year Archive Project, which is involved in developing digital archival tools designed to support engagement with the southern African past before colonialism.

Relevant Works

Cowling, Lesley and Carolyn Hamilton. Editors. Babel Unbound: Rage, Reason and Rethinking Public Life. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2020.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “Archive and Public Life”. In Babel Unbound: Rage, Reason and Rethinking Public Life, edited by Cowling, Lesley and Carolyn Hamilton, 125-143. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2020.

Hamilton, Carolyn and John Wright. “Moving Beyond Ethnic Framing: Political Differentiation in the Chiefdoms of the KwaZulu-Natal Region before 1830”.  Journal of Southern African Studies 43, no. 4 (2017), 663-679.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “The long southern African past: enfolded time and the challenges of archive”. Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies 43, no. 3 (2017), 338-357.

Hamilton, Carolyn and Nessa Leibhammer.  Editors. Tribing and Untribing the Archive: Identity and the Material Record in Southern KwaZulu-Natal in the Late Independent and Colonial Periods (two volumes). Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2016.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “Archives, Ancestors and the Contingencies of Time: The Limits of the Inherited Archive”. In Laute, Bilder, Texte. Register des Archivs, edited by Lüdtke, Alf and Tobias Nanz, 103-118. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Unipress, 2015.

Hamilton, Carolyn.  “The Five Hundred-Year Archive Online Project”. In Papers from the Pre-Colonial Catalytic Project, edited by Ntsebeza, Lungisile and Christopher Saunders, 65-79. Cape Town: Centre for African Studies, 2014.

Hamilton, Carolyn and Simon Hall. “Reading across the Divides: Commentary on the Political Co-presence of Disparate Identities in Two Regions of South Africa in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries”. Journal of Southern African Studies 38, no. 2 (2012), 281-290.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “Backstory, Biography, and the Life of the James Stuart Archive”. History in Africa 38, no. 1 (2011), 319-341.

Hamilton, Carolyn, Bernard Mbenga and Robert Ross. ‘The Production of Preindustrial South African History’. In The Cambridge History of South Africa Volume 1: From Early Times to 1885, edited by Hamilton, Carolyn, Bernard Mbenga and Robert Ross, 1-62. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “‘Living by Fluidity’: Oral Histories, Material Custodies and the Politics of Archiving”.  In Refiguring the Archive, edited by Hamilton, Carolyn, Vern Harris, Michèle Pickover, Graeme Reid, Razia Saleh, and Jane Taylor, 209-228. Cape Town: David Philip, 2002.

Hamilton, Carolyn. Terrific Majesty: The Powers of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Invention. Cape Town: David Philip, 1998.

Hamilton, Carolyn. Editor. The Mfecane Aftermath: Reconstructive Debates in Southern African History. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1995.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “’Zoolocratism’ and ‘Cannibalism’: A Discussion of Historical Disposition Toward the ‘Shakan’ Model of Social Order and Political Rights”. Social Dynamics 21, no. 2 (1995), 1-22.

Hamilton, Carolyn.  “Authoring Shaka: Models, Metaphors and Historiography”. Ph.D. thesis, Johns Hopkins University, 1993.

Hamilton, Carolyn. Editor. In the Tracks of the Swazi Past: A Historical Tour of the Ngwane and Ndwandwe Kings. Compiled by Michael Westcott. Manzini: Macmillan Boleswa, 1992.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “‘The Character and Objects of Chaka’: A Reconsideration of the Making of Shaka as the Mfecane Motor”. The Journal of African History 33, no. 1 (1992), 37-63.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “An ‘Appetite for the Past’: The Recreation of Shaka and the Crisis in Popular Historical Consciousness”. South African Historical Journal 22 (1990), 141-157.

Hamilton, Carolyn and John Wright. “The making of the Amalala: Ethnicity, Ideology and Relations of Subordination in a Precolonial Context”. South African Historical Journal 22, no. 1 (1990), 3-23.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “A Positional Gambit: Shaka Zulu and the Conflict in South Africa”. Radical History Review 44 (1989), 5-13.

Wright, John and Carolyn Hamilton. “Traditions and Transformations: The Phongolo-Mzimkhulu Region in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries”. In Natal and Zululand: From Earliest Time to 1910: A New History, edited by Duminy, Andrew and Bill Guest, 49-82. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1989.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “Ideology and Oral Traditions: Listening to the Voices ‘From Below’”. History in Africa 14 (1987), 67-86.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “The Swaziland Oral History Project”. History in Africa 14 (1987), 383-387.

Hamilton, Carolyn.  “Ideology, Oral Traditions and the Struggle for Power in the Early Zulu kingdom”. Master’s dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, 1985.

Hamilton, Carolyn. “A Fragment of the Jigsaw: authority and control amongst the early nineteenth-century northern Nguni”. Honours Dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, 1980.


Online from: 7 Feb 2022