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.
My purpose in this paper is to assess the plausibility of three claims asserted by Wilhelm Verwoerd in his book Equity, Mercy, Forgiveness: Interpreting Amnesty within the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2007) in support of the granting of amnesty by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Amnesty in this context refers to conditional amnesty: immunity from prosecution and punishment, conditional upon the full disclosure by perpetrators of the details of their wrongdoing, extended to individuals who had committed gross human rights violations between 1 May 1960 and 10 May 1994. Verwoerd rehearses several arguments that have previously been advanced in support of conditional amnesty, but his original contribution consists in asserting three claims concerning its moral status. These are that the granting of amnesty: (1) satisfies the demands of equity; (2) constitutes an act of mercy; and (3) amounts to forgiveness of perpetrators. I seek to show that, considered separately, each of these claims is false and that, asserted together, they are inconsistent.
A Renewed Biological Imaginary of 'Race', Place and Identification
In the United States of America, use of DNA samples in criminal investigation and of genetic ancestry tests in 'personalised medicine', 'pharmacogenetics' and for personal consumption has grown exponentially. Moreover, use of such technologies is visible in the public sphere. In South Africa, DNA sampling for ancestry testing is the most publicly visible application of these technologies. This work has shifted constructions of 'KhoiSan' communities from yesterday's 'missing evolutionary link' to today's 'Edenic origin of humankind'. I question human biogenetics as a home for meanings of history, humanity and belonging. To this end, I read selected genetic genealogical studies of communities considered 'KhoiSan', 'Coloured' and 'Lemba' in South Africa against concerns raised in recent literature about the use of such studies in the United States of America. I ask why bio-centric conceptions of 'race', identity and 'the human' remain so resilient. To grapple with this question, I draw on Sylvia Wynter's (2001; 2003) adaptation of Frantz Fanon's (1986) concept of 'sociogeny' into 'the sociogenic principle'. I close by suggesting the code for what it means to be human is best located in the 'word' rather than the human genome.
Representations, Positions, and Perspectives
In our call for proposals we invited contributors to explore how the representations of girls in written or graphic texts invite us to think about girlhood( s) from new and/or different perspectives. My interest in how the girl in the text might operate in different ways and/or from different perspectives dates back almost two decades; it was sparked in 1988 when I first encountered Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions A Novel, published that year. This work of fiction immediately headed up the Required Reading List for the new Feminist Literature elective on which I was working with two colleagues in the Department of English at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. My preference for this Zimbabwean novel had to do, in part, with the fact that Olive Schreiner’s Story of an African Farm, often thought to have been the first feminist South African novel, published under the male pseudonym Ralph Irons in 1883, introduces feminism in a kind of separate manifesto about the status of women in society.
‘No government can protect the rights of citizens without rigorous police, but the difference between a free regime and a tyrannical one is that, in the former, the police are employed against that minority opposed to the general good as well as against the abuse and negligence of the authorities; whereas, in the latter the State police are employed against the down-trodden who are thus delivered into the hands of injustice and impunity’.
This declaration was not a reaction to the Marikana massacre (16 August 2012), when a British mining company operating in South Africa had a special unit of the post-Apartheid South African Police Service murderously repress a mine workers strike, by means of mass shooting; many of those killed were later found to have been shot in the back as they ran away from the volley of bullets. It was made about two hundred and twenty years before, in April 1794, when revolutionary France was experiencing its most tragic moments. In the context of the Terror, and facing the necessity to discipline it, its author, Saint-Just (1767–1794), redeployed some of the most classical concepts in the History of Political Thought – freedom versus tyranny, general good versus particular interest, elite accountability versus impunity of power – in order to provide the ideological principles framing the organisation, within the web of the revolutionary police, of a special office in charge of the surveillance of the Executive and of public authorities.
Audience, Intimate Knowledge, and the Crisis of the Post-Apartheid State
This article reflects on the ways that individuals, communities, and political organizations sometimes invest in an understanding of history based on their lived experiences or, to borrow a term from Hugh Raffles, their “intimate knowledge.“ Debates regarding the practice of public history often begin with the question of how historians can—or should—address the abstract figure of “the public.“ In contrast, this article discusses how individuals and communities with political, emotional, and ideological commitments to a particular historical narrative emerge as an audience through their decision to engage, or sometimes not to engage, with the historian's research and publications. Drawing on my own research into the life of a South African anti-apartheid activist, Dr. Abu Baker “Hurley“ Asvat, this article also analyzes how contemporary struggles for historical visibility not only shape the terrain and process of academic research, but can also draw the historian's practice of writing into a broader landscape of discursive and political battles over the past.
This article examines several obstacles to the deliberative inclusion of women where traditional cultural-political authority exist alongside national democratic institutions. Drawing on the example of land reform in post-apartheid South Africa, the article argues that introducing deliberative democratic procedures to local cultural-political institutions may fail to achieve the inclusion and/or empowerment of subordinated members, such as rural women. I discuss three ways that deliberative interventions might be made more inclusive in such contexts: first, by using strategic exclusion to amplify the voices of disenfranchised community members and/or to make possible parallel deliberation by them; second, by legitimizing and supporting the informal political practices of more disempowered group members (e.g., informal protests, political activism); and third, by fostering the political capacities of disempowered citizens in both formal and informal political life.
An Alternative Understanding of Democratic Progress
For almost two decades, the survival prospects and authenticity of new democracies has been assessed through the democratic consolidation paradigm which seeks to assess whether democracies are 'consolidated'. But an examination of the paradigm shows that it is vague, teleological and ethnocentric and measures new democracies against an idealised understanding of Northern liberal democracies rather than offering a plausible means of assessing longevity or democratic progress. Its inadequacy is further demonstrated by applying it to the South African case. The article thus argues for a new approach which rejects the consolidation paradigm's assumption that some democracies (those of the North) are a 'finished product' and acknowledges both that all democracies are incomplete and that each will show uneven progress, so that older democracies will lag behind newer ones in some areas of democratic quality while surpassing them in others.
Like other major developments in political philosophy, John Rawls’s Political Liberalism (PL) has raised important issues for philosophy of education. Rawls’s defence of liberalism as a political doctrine whose principles do not depend on any one comprehensive moral or philosophical doctrine for their justification, against comprehensive liberalism, which by contrast expresses a particular conception of the good life, engages with current controversies in schooling policy in liberal democracies like the United States and the United Kingdom, and potentially in South Africa.2 In such societies there are groups which oppose what is seen as the tendency of liberal education, with its emphasis on the development of qualities like autonomy and individuality, to show intolerance towards particular ethnic, cultural or religious groups and to threaten their continued existence. Their objections appear to require a political rather than a comprehensive liberal approach to schooling.
The following paper is a discussion of justice as a sign in transition, a sign whose meanings in post-apartheid South Africa must be legitimated by appeal to conditions radically different from those that prevailed under apartheid. I wish to explore the nature of the transformation of justice from the context of apartheid to emergent postapartheid conditions and to do so by focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (the TRC) as an example of what can be called ‘transitional justice’. A common view of the TRC is that its rules for the implementation of amnesty and other related matters should be evaluated in the light of ‘ideal types’ of justice. The TRC must fall short of such ideal types, since its offer of qualified amnesty to perpetrators of gross human rights violations in exchange for complete honesty about such violations will be understood as an exigency which dispenses with a crucial feature of justice, namely retribution.