Julian Raymond Cobbing

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Biographical information


Documentary photographer, English historian and professor of history

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London, England

Julian Cobbing was born in 1944 in London. He studied at the University of London where he gained his Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and later obtained his PHD from Lancaster University. In 1977, at the age of 33, Cobbing came to South Africa and became an active photographer in the Eastern Cape during the 1980s. He joined the photographic collective, Afrapix, in and produced an extensive negative archive. As a member of Afrapix, Cobbing contributed photographs to the 1989 publication of the book Beyond the Barricades: Popular Resistance in South Africa in the 1980’s in which he added to the record of open defiance of apartheid and active resistance in South Africa.


Today Cobbing is perhaps better known for his contribution to the writing of South African history in the form of his controversial and groundbreaking research into Zulu culture of the early 19thcentury. His journal article, “The Mfecane as Alibi: Thoughts on Dithakong and Mbolompo” published in 1988 is well known. Cobbing currently works as a professional historian at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (Eastern Cape) where he lectures in the History Department


• Beyond the Barricades: Popular Resistance in the 1980’s, Photographs by Twenty South African Photographer. (1989) London: Kliptown Books
• ‘Professor Julian Cobbing’ available at https://www.ru.ac.za/international/school/staff/[Accessed 1 September 2012]
• ‘Julian Cobbing’ available at www.trueknowledge.com/q/facts_about_julian_cobbing  [Accessed 1 September 2012]
• Cobbing, J., (1988). “The Mfecane as Alibi: Thoughts on Dithakong and Mbolompo” in Journal of African History, 29, pp.487-519

Last updated : 26-Oct-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 28-Sep-2012

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