Olive Schreiner? South African writing at the crossroads? The title of this issue of Critical Survey connotes contemporaneity: Schreiner died when this century was only twenty years old. Provisionally to lift the weight of this seeming paradox off the reader’s mind – if not wholly to resolve it – I would only suggest that both ‘South Africa’ as an entity and its writing were as much (and critically) at a point of intersection – a choice of paths – in the 1890s as they have been in the 1990s, and that one century’s end speaks eloquently to another. It is of course always and only thanks to our own effort-free hindsight that we can speak of a writer’s foresight: of all those who exerted themselves in gazing forward as the last century ended and this one began, Schreiner scores in my view highest; and not on any yardstick of empirical prediction but rather because her brand of countercultural thinking and imagining is – and here another and harder paradox looms – always so productively non-contemporaneous, always so open to the other and to the future. We find this quality in the shortest no less than in the longer of her fictions, and the thousand or so words of ‘The Woman’s Rose’ from Dream Life and Real Life deliver its effects as strongly as any. Schreiner brings her experience as a woman on the frontier to bear upon the new South Africa that was emerging in the late nineteenth century. The story I have chosen offers a way in to the historical narratives of her formation as well as a commentary upon the ethical and sociopolitical options before the (new) new South Africa a hundred and more years on.
Olive Schreiner, the Short Story and Grand History
Maureen St John Ward
The photographs in this photo essay were taken by eleven and twelve year old girls in Grade 7 who were learning isiZulu as a second language (since most of them are English speaking) at a school in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. For their class project the girls were asked to take photographs of various aspects of their bedrooms, and then write captions for these photos in isiZulu. Each girl presented her images to the whole class in a Power Point presentation.
Jean Comaroff, Peter Geschiere, Kamari M. Clarke and Adeline Masquelier
Colonial frontiers, we have long been told, put conventional categories at risk. I grew up on one such frontier, itself an anachronism in the late-twentieth-century world—apartheid South Africa, where many of the key terms of liberal modernity were scandalously, publically violated. Religion was one of them. Some have argued that the act of separating the sacred from the secular is the founding gesture of liberal modern state making (Asad 2003: 13). In this, South Africa was a flagrant exception. There, the line between faith and politics was always overtly contested, always palpably porous. Faith-based arguments were central to politics at its most pragmatic, to competing claims of sovereignty and citizenship, to debates about the nature of civilization or the content of school curricula. As a settler colony, South Africa had long experimented with ways to ‘modernize racial domination’ (Adam 1971) in the interests of capitalist production, frequently with appeals to theology. After 1948, in contrast with the spirit of a decolonizing world, the country fell under the sway of Afrikaner rulers of overtly Calvinist bent. They set about formalizing a racial division of labor that ensured that black populations, the Children of Ham, remained economically subservient and politically marginal.
Welcome to the Postmodern Melancholy of Gordimer's Post-Apartheid World
Raymond Chandler used to say that whenever he got stuck writing a novel he would get going again by having a character come through the door with a gun in hand. Reading the opening pages of Nadine Gordimer’s new novel with its account of a sensational murder, one might wonder whether South Africa’s 1991 Nobel laureate, faced with the end of apartheid and the consequent lack of a subject, was operating according to Chandler’s principle. The House Gun, however, indicates not so much the lack of a subject as a new way of looking at an old subject facing new circumstances – the old subject being the psychological and material effects of white racism on whites, the new circumstances being those of post-apartheid South Africa. Moreover, the apparent narrowing of focus from the macropolitics of Gordimer’s three most recent preceding novels, None to Accompany Me (1994), My Son’s Story (1990), and A Sport of Nature (1987), to the micro-politics of The House Gun suggests that we can read South Africa’s transition to full democracy as a paradigmatic change from a modern to a postmodern condition. Gordimer’s post- 1994 publications, and The House Gun in particular, lend themselves to being read as illustrative of two of Michel Foucault’s central insights: the ubiquity of power, and the consequent idea that given that ubiquity, care of one’s self (‘souci de soi’) becomes a new kind of political obligation.
Mark Twain's Following the Equator and Pandita Ramabai's The Peoples of the United States
Mark Twain's Following the Equator (1897), a narrative of a journey to the South Pacific, Australia, South Asia, and South Africa, has occupied a small but significant space in the consideration of Twain's wider career as both a travel writer and social critic. Twain's work has not, however, been considered in conjunction with the works of later nineteenth-century South Asian travelers in North America. The present article puts Twain's discussion of India and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) in dialogue with Indian scholar and women's rights activist Pandita Ramabai's 1889 travelogue The Peoples of the United States.
The Ariadne’s thread that runs through, and connects, the articles in this issue of Theoria is the modern state. How should the state approach welfare policy? Is the state’s power as absolute as once it had been? What is the importance of nationalism for states? What assumptions about the relationship between the state and civil society should be examined, and how? What, especially in a developing society such as South Africa, is—or should be—the relationship between the state and the poor? These are the overarching questions that knit together the contributions.
On the Benefits of Sympathy for Political Reconciliation
The work of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has generated a great deal of interest in the role of forgiveness in politics. More specifically, it has raised the question of whether forgiveness should be a constitutive part of reconciliation processes between groups. In this paper, I argue that it should not, and that it might be both more useful and more realistic to consider something like Adam Smith’s notion of ‘sympathy’ instead. The first part examines the arguments for and against policies promoting political forgiveness. The second part suggests sympathy as an alternative. The third part considers and rejects some objections to the employment of sympathy in this context.
This article proposes that Rick Turner needs to be considered as a theologian as well as a philosopher. It examines the sources behind his ‘religious’ writings, notably The Eye of the Needle, to understand the theological world view he had imbibed before he wrote it. It then looks at how he framed the book theologically and how theology informs the whole text. In light of this, its similarity with roughly contemporary works of liberation theology, and the way it anticipated currents within the subsequent church engagement in the anti-apartheid struggle, the proposal is made that he should be called a South African theologian.
Zoe Bray and Christian Thauer
In this article, we explore how corporate social responsibility may serve to mitigate the confl ict between the utopia that many people—particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds in emerging markets states—associate with globalization and, on the other hand, the detrimental effect this globalization often actually has both on the quality of life of people and on the environment. Empirical data is drawn from field research on firm and local community relations in South Africa and China. We consider the extent to which corporate social responsibility may be a means to move beyond both utopian hopes and the dystopian reality of globalization.
Acting Up on Science and Immigration in France
Michael J. Bosia
From a postcolonial left that challenges the French state over immigration policy and neoliberal globalization, Act Up has advocated for the social and political rights and needs of women, inmates, drug users, and immigrants with HIV/AIDS. This essay examines as well Act Up's engagement with science and globalization in response to new experimental medical trials in the Global South. Act Up's emphasis on local empowerment against global economic and social actors has earned criticism from American and South African AIDS activists, but at the same time these campaigns stress the universalist impulse imbedded in the Act Up brand of French Republican politics.