Rector's teaching award for best lecturer, University of the Western Cape, 2000.
Apartheid's Festival: Contesting South Africa's National Pasts, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2003.
Also author of Write Your Own History, 1988, and How to Write Essays, 1990.
Leslie Witz is an associate professor of history and chair of the board of the Centre for Popular Memory at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. His Apartheid's Festival: Contesting South Africa's National Pasts was published in 2003 by the Indiana University Press.
In Apartheid's Festival, Witz examines the debates surrounding the 1952 Van Riebeeck Tercentenary, which celebrated the landing of Jan Van Riebeeck at Cape Town, South Africa. Van Riebeeck, a Dutch East India Company official assigned to establish an outpost at the Cape of Good Hope, erected a fort and developed a number of farms in the area, opening the nation for European settlers; he was later cast as a founding figure of white South Africa. According to Loren Kruger, writing in Research in African Literatures, "Witz's study shows how different stakeholders created in Van Riebeeck the protagonist or antagonist of their national narrative and the architect of the material basis on which that narrative had been or might be turned into lived reality." The author, noted Journal of African History reviewer Clifton Crais, "is able to offer a rich and encompassing analysis of an important moment in South African history. Moreover, in the conclusion, he uses the 1952 celebrations to think more broadly about contemporary issues around culture and the productions of history in the post-apartheid era." H-Net contributor Saul Dubow also praised the work, stating that Witz "has produced an absorbing and deeply-researched study of the construction of historical myth and memory that is especially good on the 1950s and on the ambivalent position of the Mother City in the new Vaderland. It is a serious piece of scholarship and deserves wide readership."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, December, 2004, Paula Girshick, review of Apartheid's Festival: Contesting South Africa's National Pasts, p. 1688.
Choice, May, 2004, J.O. Gump, review of Apartheid's Festival, p. 1717.
International Journal of African Historical Studies, spring, 2004, Catherine Higgs, review of Apartheid's Festival, p. 368.
Journal of African History, November, 2004, Clifton Crais, review of Apartheid's Festival, p. 523.
Public Historian, fall, 2004, Verne Harris, review of Apartheid's Festival, p. 115.
Research in African Literatures, fall, 2004, Loren Kruger, review of Apartheid's Festival, p. 182.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (September, 2004), Saul Dubow, review of Apartheid's Festival.
University of the Western Cape,http://www.uwc.ac.za/ (May 10, 2008), biography of Leslie Witz.