Recent scholarship on South Africa

SAQ_114_2_prEvery issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly includes a thematic section composed of short essays that engage a topic of contemporary political importance. This section, “Against the Day,” is meant to highlight both the modes of activism and the specific occasion that the essays address. “Against the Day” is made freely available for six months following online publication. The most recent issue of SAQ, “Rethinking Money, Debt, and Finance After the Crisis,” includes an “Against the Day” section entitled “Reconfigurations on the Left in South Africa.” Contributors address topics such as economic freedom fighters and labor-community alliances. Read more from “Against the Day.”

ddnka_2015_36In the most recent issue of Nka, Julie L. McGee situates visualizing the riot, a theme throughout the issue, within South Africa. Critical analysis of the dominant tropes of rioting in South Africa’s visual field, where rioting has powerful historic meaning and contemporary political agency, is overdue. Visualizing the riot in a landscape of complexity and contradiction, where one person’s protest is another’s art, is a delicate affair. The primary subject may be history, the riot, that which “incited” the riot, its visual aesthetic, or all these and more simultaneously. Does focus on the iconography of the riot displace or disenfranchise the realpolitik? Is this an art-historical question, or a matter of and for ethics and aesthetics? Learn more by reading her article, “Aesthetics of the Abstract and Explosive,” made freely available.

Crais cover image, 5529-8The South Africa Reader is an extraordinarily rich guide to the history, culture, and politics of South Africa. With more than eighty absorbing selections, the Reader provides many perspectives on the country’s diverse peoples, its first two decades as a democracy, and the forces that have shaped its history and continue to pose challenges to its future, particularly violence, inequality, and racial discrimination. Among the selections are folktales passed down through the centuries, statements by seventeenth-century Dutch colonists, the songs of mine workers, a widow’s testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and a photo essay featuring the acclaimed work of Santu Mofokeng. Cartoons, songs, and fiction are juxtaposed with iconic documents, such as “The Freedom Charter” adopted in 1955 by the African National Congress and its allies and Nelson Mandela’s “Statement from the Dock” in 1964. Cacophonous voices—those of slaves and indentured workers, African chiefs and kings, presidents and revolutionaries—invite readers into ongoing debates about South Africa’s past and present and what exactly it means to be South African.

Joseph cover image, 5896-1The son of a minister, James A. Joseph grew up in Louisiana’s Cajun country, where his parents taught him the value of education and the importance of serving others. These lessons inspired him to follow a career path that came to include working in senior executive or advisory positions for four United States Presidents and with the legendary Nelson Mandela to build a new democracy in Southern Africa. Saved for a Purpose is Joseph’s ethical autobiography, in which he shares his moral philosophy and his insights on leadership.  Watch for this book, out in September.

Forthcoming this October, in Making Freedom Anne-Maria Makhulu explores practices of squatting and illegal settlement on the outskirts of Cape Town during and immediately following the end of apartheid. Apartheid’s paradoxical policies of prohibiting migrant Africans who worked in Cape Town from living permanently within the city led some black families to seek safe haven on the city’s perimeters. Beginning in the 1970s families set up makeshift tents and shacks and built whole communities, defying the state through what Makhulu calls a “politics of presence.” In the simple act of building homes, squatters, who Makhulu characterizes as urban militants, actively engaged in a politics of “the right to the city” that became vital in the broader struggles for liberation. Despite apartheid’s end in 1994, Cape Town’s settlements have expanded, as new forms of dispossession associated with South African neoliberalism perpetuate relations of spatial exclusion, poverty, and racism. As Makhulu demonstrates, the efforts of black Capetonians to establish claims to a place in the city not only decisively reshaped Cape Town’s geography but changed the course of history.

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