Richard Turner’s contribution to thinking on race in South Africa is often undervalued. As influential as his thinking on economic and social alternatives was, a close reading of his work in context suggests that his core concern was a critique of white liberalism, and that this was itself a means to a wider analysis of whiteness in a racially stratified society. An analysis of contemporary South Africa suggests that his critique remains an important resource in our attempt to discuss current realities. Acknowledging the centrality of racial domination in Turner’s thought highlights the continued salience of his understanding of South African social reality.
Richard Turner and South African Liberalism
Thoughts on the Humanities at Home and Abroad
The place and future of the Humanities is under scrutiny in many parts of the world. The diminution in the university commenced in the 1980s with the rise of free-market thinking associated with Thatcher and Reagan. It was the end of the Cold War, however, with the rise of globalisation that control was tightened in higher education under the guise of increased freedom. The increasing emphasis on utilitarian forms of knowledge needed for economic growth further imperilled the Humanities. In South Africa, upon which the argument draws for illustration, policy-makers paid increasing lip service to academic freedom and institutional autonomy while directing policy interest and resources away from the Humanities.
Post-apartheid Ambiguities at the University of Limpopo, South Africa
Based on an in-depth analysis of the events that took place during a single day at the University of Limpopo, this article makes connections between current and past events in arguing that post-apartheid South Africa is underpinned by several layers of ambiguity. At one level the article seeks to demonstrate the continuing relevance of situational analysis as a research paradigm, while at another level it attempts to provide a fresh look at the dominant cleavage in South African society that was identified by Max Gluckman in 1940. Drawing on a mock funeral held for government-aligned student organizations in October 2006, which revealed strains and uncertainties in South Africa's post-apartheid society, the intent is to show how the government's failure to secure service delivery has created new lines of contestation.
Reconfiguring Culpability in Melanesia and Africa
This article examines the significance of witchcraft accusations during the South African AIDS epidemic. In search of broader intercontextual understanding, I compare experiences of AIDS in Bushbuck ridge, where I have done fieldwork, with anthropological studies of kuru, a transmissible degenerative disease, in Papua New Guinea. Whereas scientists blamed the spread of kuru on the practice of cannibalism, those who were affected attributed it to sorcery. These dynamics resonate with the encounters between health workers and host populations during the AIDS epidemic in Bushbuckridge. Health propaganda attributed the rapid transmission of HIV to sexual promiscuity. In response, sufferers and their kin invoked witchcraft, shifting blame onto outsiders and reinforcing the relations that medical labeling threatened to disrupt. The comparison enables us to see witchcraft accusations as a means of reconfiguring culpability, cutting certain networks, and strengthening other existing configurations.
This article compares and contrasts liberal democracy and national democracy. It attempts this by focusing on each of these as specific state forms with an effectivity or 'tilt' of their own which includes a determinate preconstruction of the category of the People. It is argued, inter alia, that internal to national democracy is a conception of colonialism (and anti-colonialism) and that the national-racial reference is thus internal to the national democratic conception of equality. In conclusion it is proposed that the tilt of a state form is expressed via the distinction of grammatical mood between the imperative and the subjunctive and that the 1994 South African Constitution, when read in this way, is more liberal democratic than national democratic.
Deevia Bhana and Emmanuel Mayeza
In this article we focus on sixty South African primary schoolgirls’ experiences of male violence and bullying. Rejecting outmoded constructions of schoolgirls as passive, we examine how girls draw on different forms of femininity to manage and address violence at school. These femininities are non-normative in their advancing of violence to stop violence but are also imbued with culturally relevant meanings about care, forgiveness, and humanity based on the African principle of ubuntu. Moving away from the discursive production of girls’ victimhood, we show how girls construct their own agency as they actively participate in multiple forms of femininity advocating both violence and forgiveness. Given the absence of teacher and parental support for girls’ safety, we conclude with a call to address interventions contextually, from schoolgirls’ own perspectives.
Prison gangs, violent acts, and victimization among inmates
Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard and Sasha Gear
That gangs have a prominent place in South African prison violence—like in many other geographical contexts—has become increasingly clear. Based on qualitative research among South African inmates and ex-inmates, we propose that prison gangs be considered adaptation strategies to the extremely coercive and oppressive environments of prisons. We focus on the relationship between gang involvement in prison, violent acts among inmates, and the risk of being subjected to violence during incarceration. By providing emic perspectives, we aim to demonstrate how inmates negotiate three types of social roles, largely defined by their ability and willingness to use violence: franse, gangster, and wyfie. Our findings suggest that prison gangs may jeopardize the personal safety of inmates, but can also paradoxically offer some inmates the opportunity to establish a sense of safety and agency by avoiding random violence.
Moral and Sexual Geographies in Cape Town, South Africa
'Spiritual mapping' is a transnational Pentecostal 'spiritual warfare' practice that aims to identify and fight 'territorial spirits', or demons that possess specific places. It was unique in Cape Town, South Africa, at the beginning of democracy, because it was both racialized and sexualized. This article examines how Pentecostals in Cape Town employed spiritual mapping techniques to identify and police groups they understood as morally and spiritually 'dangerous': black and 'coloured' communities and gays and lesbians. I argue that South African spiritual mapping was a response to the material and physical insecurities of democracy, particularly the declining economy, failed promises of the African National Congress, and some of the highest rates of crime in the world.
Presently certain catchphrases and hashtags have been circulating and trending in the public discourse such as ‘white monopoly capital’, ‘radical economic transformation’ and movements’ phrases such as ‘fees must fall’ and ‘Black First Land First’ form - ulated in response to issues around education, land and race specifically. However, Robert Sobukwe, intellectual giant of the pan- Africanist struggle, articulated very strong beliefs underpinning these burning societal questions from as early as the 1940s. His incarceration, banishment and ultimate death in 1978 left a political vacuum in South Africa and more than twenty years after democracy, the aforementioned issues Sobukwe stressed during his time need to be revisited. South African is currently experiencing a massive resurgence in the narrative and discourse regarding the need for dialogue around education transformation, land reform and race as a whole. Therefore, this article seeks to draw unpack Sobukwe’s take on these three burning issues in relation to the current discourse in South Africa today underpinned by pan-Africanist philosophy.
The Perspective, Location and Agency of Theory in South African Cultural Studies
In an interview with David Attwell, recorded in 1993 at the School of Criticism and Theory at Dartmouth College New Hampshire, Homi Bhabha turns his liminal gaze to the fate of South Africa. His position, that of “an outsider … a bystander and consumer of the media” (Attwell 1993: 109), invokes a reading of the state of the nation and its cultural predicament which, nine years hence, remains compelling. What is particularly striking about the conversation, conducted at a geographical remove during a charged historical time when South Africa forges what will prove to be an on-going process of disinterring itself from a legacy of oppression, is Bhabha’s eschewal of a saving telos and his insistence on turning and returning to “the semiosis of the moment of transition” (1993: 104). For Bhabha this moment is not the Gramscian interregnum between two distinct states of governance. Rather, his conception subsumes the notion of two distinct states as well as Antonio Gramsci’s conception of the moment between as the emergent locus for a symptomatic morbidity. Here Bhabha diverges from the perception of those within South Africa for whom the interregnum has served as a prevailing trope, most notably Nadine Gordimer in The Essential Gesture: Writing, Politics and Places (1988: 262) and Michael Chapman in Southern African Literatures (1996: 327-331). Rather, between the renunciation of a past and the proleptic fulfilment of a future, Bhabha proffers a more enabling conception of the moment of transition; one which, having “overcome the given grounds of opposition … opens up a space of translation: a place of hybridity, figuratively speaking, where the construction of a political object that is new, neither the one nor the other, properly alienates our political expectation, and changes, as it must, the very forms of our recognition of the moment of politics” (Bhabha 1994: 25).