E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class exercised a substantial influence on the South African academy and acted as a key shaper of a “history from below” movement in the 1980s. While Thompson's influence in South Africa has been celebrated, the limits of his circulation are less frequently explored. This article takes on this task by placing The Making alongside Steve Biko's I Write What I Like. Biko was a major figure in the emergence of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). The article compares the interlinked formations of which the two texts formed a part—the BCM displaced white radical intellectuals, who retreated into class analysis as an analytical alternative to race. The article also examines specific copies of the two titles found in South African libraries and uses the different patterns of marginalia as a way of tracing the individual impacts of the two texts.
E. P. Thompson, Biko, and the Limits of The Making of the English Working Class
Liberalism in South Africa has attracted criticism from many quarters. A persistent objection focuses on the association between liberalism and capitalism, with liberals often cast as defenders of privilege and inequity and thereby as aligned with domination rather than liberation. This characterisation relies on a great deal of oversimplification. The length of the South African liberal tradition, and its diverse influences, means that South African liberalism resists easy definition. It is better seen as a family of resemblances than in terms of a lineage. The historical development of South African liberalism has therefore to be understood, above all, in terms of local conditions and contexts. By looking at its long history in this manner, it is possible to identify persistent strands of thought that are often disposed to support redistributive mechanisms. These may not be fully egalitarian and they may be pursued for pragmatic and prudential ends rather than as a matter of principle. Nevertheless, they include principled opposition to apartheid policies. Free-market ideologues have been exceptional within the long liberal tradition. An historical appreciation of the redistributive components of South African liberalism may help those who wish to revive modern liberalism as a social democratic movement.
Virtuous Citizenship and Popular Sovereignty
What is virtuous citizenship? Is it possible to be a virtuous citizen whatever the form of one's state? Is it possible to be a virtuous citizen in the new South Africa? In this article I defend some Republican ideas on civic virtue and popular sovereignty, especially as found in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, to suggest that popular sovereignty is a necessary condition for active and virtuous citizenship. For it is only under conditions of popular sovereignty that the right kind of political agency is possible. I discuss these ideas in the context of modern constitutional democracies, and argue that constitutional democracy in South Africa is not an instance of popular sovereignty and thus does not provide the possibility for virtuous citizenship. I end the article with a proposal for addressing these deficiencies: effective citizen control over the constitution by means of a decennial plebiscite—a carnival of citizenship.
Main Reef Road, South Africa, 1999; Nicolaas Hofmeyr (director and writer); 88 minutes; Free Filmmakers Production
The Dialectical Tradition in South Africa by Andrew Nash
It is often said that history is written from the victors’ perspective and Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe’s legacy has become something of a historical footnote by the South African political majority where he is simply described as the movement
South Africa's Struggle for Human Rights by S. Dubow Intellectual Traditions in South Africa: Ideas, Individuals and Institutions by P. Vale, L. Hamilton and E. Prinsloo (eds). Review by Jonathan Allen
Re-Imagining the Social in South Africa: Critique, Theory, and Post-Apartheid Society, edited by Heather Jacklin and Peter Vale
A History of Richard Turner’s Eclipse and Resurgence
the philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre, gained him not only a Ph.D. but also shaped his life’s outlook and direction. He returned to South Africa convinced by the conclusions of his thesis, that human society was essentially the product of individual and
Katalin Eszter Morgan
Since the 1990s researchers have explored the design features of instructional texts from a Vygotskian sociocultural perspective. This article draws on their work in order to formulate analytical questions. Selected examples from four South African eleventh grade history textbooks are analyzed in an attempt to understand how the application of design principles, or the lack thereof, affects the potential mediating function of the text for historical learning as a whole. The relationship between visual processing and analytical and affective thinking is introduced to the discussion. The article concludes by commenting on the sociocultural context of textbook production.