The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits), has been a prominent site of student protests since 2015. In the midst of the conflicts various Wits actors claimed or implied a special democratic legitimacy. This article examines five exercises at Wits: the election of student representatives, the student protest movement, a student petition, a management-initiated poll and an aborted General Assembly. These exercises are scrutinised and scored along six democratic dimensions: directness, participation, representation, pluralism, equality and deliberation. According to the weak thesis, this dimensional analysis reveals a landscape of democratic complexity that belies the claim of any one actor to a superior democratic model. According to the strong thesis, there is a particular problem with democratic practices that score weakly in terms of representation. The weakness of the ‘fallist’ student movement in the representation dimension undercuts its claim to prefigure a superior form of comprehensive university-wide democracy.
The making of South Africa's Avon entrepreneurs
Catherine Dolan and Mary Johnstone-Louis
The bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) approach is championed as a way to deliver both corporate profits and poverty reduction. This article explores how “the poor” are repurposed as the instruments of ethical capitalism through the archetypal BOP model—Avon Cosmetics. A harbinger of “compassionate capitalism,” Avon has long stylized its entrepreneurial opportunity as a channel to a transcendent realm of self-actualization and social transformation. The company pursues this vision through a set of discourses and calculative practices that aim to produce industrious, self-disciplined, and empowered “entrepreneurs.” However, while BOP systems like Avon may provide a viable income stream for “poor” women, the practices through which women are “converted” into enterprising subjects can confound their intended “empowerment” effects. The article suggests that while targeting the “bottom of the pyramid” may elide the distinction between the maximization of profit and the imperatives of sustainable development, devolving corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the “entrepreneurial poor” raises questions about the implications of “making poverty business.”
A. Stepan (ed.) Democracies in danger L. Diamond and M.F. Plattner (eds.) Democracy: A reader
A. Jeeves and G. Cuthbertson (eds.) Fragile freedom: South African democracy 1994–2004
Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo
Keynote address of the 2011 Conference of the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) Rustenburg, South Africa, 30 November 2011
Steven Robins, Letters of Stone: From Nazi Germany to South Africa (Cape Town: Penguin Random House, 2016), 314 pp. Paperback, $16.15. ISBN 9781776090242.
Sherran Clarence, Raphael de Kadt and Fabio Zoia
(Un)thinking Citizenship. Feminist Debates in Contemporary South Africa, edited by Amanda Gouws Sherran Clarence
Democracy and Exchange: Schumpeter, Galbraith, T.H. Marshall, Titmuss and Adam Smith by David Reisman Raphael de Kadt
The Making of Modern South Africa: Conquest, Apartheid, Democracy, by Nigel Worden Fabio Zoia
Raphael de Kadt
Richard Turner was, and arguably remains, the most brilliant, original and intellectually arresting South African philosopher of the post Second World War era, if not of all time. The prematurity and nature of his assassination, conjoined to the difficulty in accessing much of his later work, also renders him one of the potentially and tragically most ‘forgotten’ figures in South Africa’s intellectual history.
Situating Screen Bodies
This cover of Screen Bodies features a photograph by Collen Mfazwe entitled “Love Has No Gender, Race or Sexuality. Boitumelo and Collen. (August 2017).” Mfazwe lives in Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa, and is a photographer at the South African platform Inkanyiso (Zulu for “the one who brings light”). In “Love Has No Gender,” we find a summary of Mfazwe’s response to South Africa’s drastically high rate of violent crime against womxn, lesbians, and bisexual and trans folk, a long-running pattern of gender-based violence that she confronts in a series she has been developing since 2017 called Imizimba (Bodies).
Retrieving the Africanist (Liberatory) Conception of Non-Racialism
South Africa since 1994 is widely represented as a society which has broken both historically and politically with white supremacy. One of the central discursive pillars sustaining this representation is the appeal to the most recent South African constitution Act 108 of 1996, the founding provisions of which declare that South Africa is founded on the value of non-racialism. The central argument of this article is that an examination of the philosophical underpinnings of the non-racialism of the constitution can give us a better understanding of why and how South Africa remains a racial polity despite the coming into effect of the constitution. We will conclude the article by considering the ethical and political demands which must be met before the actuality of non-racialism may be experienced.
This article considers the contribution of radical South African philosopher Rick Turner to theories of ‘workers’ control’. Turner’s philosophical work, especially his book, The Eye of the Needle (1972), posited the workplace as a fundamental site of ‘participatory democracy’ and a space for the potential radical transformation of South African society. During the early 1970s, Turner’s philosophical writings, teaching at the University of Natal, and political activism in Durban helped galvanise a cohort of radical white students who joined in support of protesting black workers in the 1973 Durban mass strikes. The confluence of Turner’s ideas about workers’ control, the students’ activism, and the collective action of the black working class gave South Africa’s labour movement a radically democratic, shop-floor orientation that deserves a revival in the new South Africa.