Captured by curiosity : the historical development of astronomy in South Africa, from the pre-colonial past to c.1970

Smith, Paige (2022-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2022.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The historical development of astronomy in South Africa did not occur along linear lines, nor was it sustained by only one group of people or one intellectual tradition. This thesis offers a fresh history of the development of astronomy by synthesising the contribution of various individuals, groups and institutions that contributed to its development from what may be defined as the pre-colonial period up until 1970, when it was first introduced as a subject to study at South African tertiary institutions. It argues that the development of astronomy in South Africa over time, as an intellectual and cultural body of knowledge as well as a scientific and professional discipline, was derived from diverse sources. In doing so, this thesis traces the trajectory of the development of astronomical inquiry by investigating the astronomical practices and cosmological beliefs of various indigenous groups of southern Africa, as well as the individuals, organisations, and institutions of European colonialists from the mid-seventeenth century. This thesis contributes to the existing body of literature by discussing both the precolonial and colonial histories, while also addressing how the role of indigenous peoples and their astronomical activities is often excluded from the broader narrative and that it belongs in our broader understanding of the history of astronomical thinking.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die historiese ontwikkeling van sterrekunde in Suid-Afrika het nie op ‘n lineêre wyse plaasgevind nie, en dit is ook nie deur slegs een groep mense of een intellektuele tradisie onderhou nie. Hierdie tesis bied ‘n nuwe geskiedenis aan wat van die ontwikkeling van sterrekunde deur die bydrae van verskillende individue, groepe en instellings wat bygedra het tot die ontwikkeling daarvan, te sintetiseer vanaf die voorkoloniale tydperk tot 1970, wanneer dit eers as ‘n onderwerp bekendgestel in Suid-Afrikaanse tersiêre instellings te studeer. Hierdie tesis voer aan dat die ontwikkeling van sterrekunde in Suid-Afrika oor tyd, as ‘n intellektuele en kulturele kennis, sowel as ‘n wetenskaplike en professionele dissipline, uit verskillende bronne verkry is. Hierdie tesis volg die trajek van die ontwikkeling van astronomiese ondersoek deur die astronomiese praktyke en kosmologiese oortuigings van verskillende inheemse groepe in Suider-Afrika, sowel as die individue, organisasies en instellings van Europese kolonialiste uit die middel van die sewentiende eeu te ondersoek. Hierdie tesis bydra tot die bestaande literatuur deur beide die voorkoloniale en koloniale geskiedenis te bespreek, en bespreek ook hoe die rol van inheemse mense en hul astronomiese aktiwiteite dikwels uitgesluit word van die breër verhaal en dat dit hoort in ons breër begrip van die geskiedenis van astronomiese denke.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/124942
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