Video | Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Early History of South Africa, c. 900-1930
Raevin Jiminez, Ph.D.
Speaker’s Synopsis: During the millennium preceding European colonialism, South Africans forged societies characterized by dispersed political networks, long-distance commerce, extensive regional interactions, and overlapping flows of people, ideas, and materials. By the 18th century, their political economies and political beliefs yielded powerful kingdoms. Colonial political mythology rests on the notion that early Europeans ‘set up a country bare’ and devoid of civilization. The early history of South Africa reveals a far more complex past.

Dr. Jimenez is an LSA Collegiate Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 2017. Her research uses comparative historical linguistics to recover the undocumented past. She is interested in the ways southern African speech communities crafted political beliefs and practices over several centuries, how these beliefs shaped gendered and generational social relations, and the ways enduring ideas shaped the rise of centralized kingdoms.