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The Ambiguity of Subversion

Resistance through Radio Broadcasting

Gisli Vogler

Abstract

This article explores subversion as a practice of resistance and draws on the example of subversive radio for illustration. Radio became an important site of power struggles in the twentieth century, often placed in the service of both resistance and oppression. An examination of subversive acts in radio broadcasting, I argue, helps shift the focus away from the myths of heroic resistance, directing attention to the uncertainties encountered by the subversive actor. To make this argument, I build on Frantz Fanon's influential work on the resistant potential of radio and engage with literature on subversion and everyday resistance. The article illustrates the ambiguity of subversion on the case study of Radio Bantu, a broadcaster of ethnic-specific radio programmes established by the South African apartheid regime.

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Grey Zones of Resistance and Contemporary Political Theory

Maša Mrovlje and Jennet Kirkpatrick

Of late, resistance has become a central notion in political theory, standing at the heart of attempts to respond to the dilemmas of contemporary times. However, many accounts tend to ascribe to an idealised, heroic view. In this view, resistance represents a clear-cut action against injustice and stems from individuals’ conscious choice and their unwavering ethical commitment to the cause. Some liberal scholars, most notably Candice Delmas and Jason Brennan, have argued that citizens of democratic societies have a moral duty to resist state-sanctioned injustice. This resistance occurs either through ‘principled – civil or uncivil – disobedience’ or through ‘defensive actions’ (Delmas 2018: 5; Brennan 2019: 15). While acknowledging that pervasive injustice can compromise our cognitive and moral capacities, however, their articulation of our political obligation to resist refrains from a sustained examination of the moral dilemmas, uncertainties and risks that arise when fighting systemic oppression (Delmas 2018: 198–222; Brennan 2019: 28–59, 210–14).

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Editorial

African Philosophy and Rights

Motsamai Molefe and Chris Allsobrook

A useful way to approach the discourse of rights in African philosophy is in terms of Kwasi Wiredu’s (1996) distinction between cultural particulars and universals. According to Wiredu, cultural particulars are contingent and context-dependent. They fail to hold in all circumstances and for everyone (Wiredu 2005). Cultural universals are transcultural or objective (Wiredu 2005). Examples of cultural particulars include dress styles, religious rituals, social etiquette and so on. One example of a cultural universal is the norm of truth. One may imagine a society with different methods of greeting, dress, and raising children, but one cannot imagine a robust society which rejects the norm of truth as the basis of social practices.

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Editorial

Some Senses of Pan-Africanism from the South

Christopher Allsobrook

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Introduction

Traces of Pan Africanism and African Nationalism in Africa Today

Denis Goldberg

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Editorial

Raphael de Kadt

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Empire and Economics

Decolonising Colonialism and Its Legacies in Africa

Edited by Lawrence Hamilton

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Acknowledgments

The editors would like to sincerely thank the following peer reviewers for giving of their time and expertise so generously.

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Editorial

Nir Eisikovits

In the last seventy years the nature of war has changed dramatically. Rather than involving two or more national armies fighting in uniform and obeying an orderly chain of command, most organised violence since the end of the Second World War has been asymmetrical, involving a regular army on the one hand and militia or guerrilla forces on the other.1 At the same time, the nature of battle – the intense, adrenaline-fueled close quarters confrontation that has traditionally defined the very heart of our idea of war (Keegan 1983) – is also changing as a result of dramatic advances in our ability to fight remotely. The increasing role of robotic devices and drones in recent conflicts, as well as the exponentially growing potency of cyberwarfare, are changing what it means to do combat. Now, asymmetrical war has been around forever. Defeated armies and weaker parties have often turned to guerrilla tactics against stronger foes. But, in recent decades, asymmetrical war has become the primary form of violence we encounter. Similarly, the history of military technology has always been the history of killing at a growing distance (swords allow more distance than fists, longbows than swords, rifles than longbows and so on). And yet, recent years have seen a qualitative leap in what we can do from far away.

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Egalitarian Liberalism

What Are Its Possible Futures in South Africa?

David Bilchitz and Daryl Glaser

Liberalism is associated by many with the protection of private property and the insulation of economic markets from state intervention. Yet the liberal tradition is very diverse, and some have taken its concern with equality and liberty in radically egalitarian directions that belie the reduction of liberalism to market-fundamentalist ‘neoliberalism’.