Picking up the relay baton

Translating traditions in apartheid and democratic South Africa

in Focaal
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This article reflects the particular construction of 'Culture' by a network of ethnographers, bureaucrats, politicians, and traditional leaders in South Africa. It analyzes the impact of this specific understanding of Culture during the apartheid years and in the new democratic dispensation using actor network theory (ANT) as developed by Callon and Latour. The essay also explores the establishment of the network in colonial times, examines its working method during the apartheid years, and queries the reasons for its survival and restrengthening after the dismantling of apartheid. Furthermore, the article deals with the popularization of the network's Culture credo and discusses some consequences of this special understanding of Culture and of how the government should preserve it.