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Florian Krobb

Main Reef Road, South Africa, 1999; Nicolaas Hofmeyr (director and writer); 88 minutes; Free Filmmakers Production

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South African Remains

E. P. Thompson, Biko, and the Limits of The Making of the English Working Class

Isabel Hofmeyr

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.

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Chris Allsobrook

The Dialectical Tradition in South Africa by Andrew Nash

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Lauren Marx

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

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Jonathan Allen

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

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Robert W. Compton Jr.

The African National Congress and the regeneration of political power, S. Booysen, 2011. Wits University Press.

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, D. Acemoglu & J. Robinson, 2012. Crown Publishing (Random House).

A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of the South African Dream, M. Gevisser, 2009. Palgrave-Macmillan.

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Violence makes safe in South African prisons

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.

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Bernard Dubbeld

Re-Imagining the Social in South Africa: Critique, Theory, and Post-Apartheid Society, edited by Heather Jacklin and Peter Vale

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Saul Dubow

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.

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David Chidester

In 2003, after more than 10 years of policy debate and public controversy, the South African minister of education announced a new policy for religion and education that distinguished between religious interests, which are best served by religious communities, and educational objectives for teaching and learning about religion, religions, and religious diversity that should be served by the curriculum of public schools. This article locates South Africa's new policy for religion and education in relation to attempts to redefine the role of the state in the transition from apartheid to democracy. The policy emerged within a new constitutional framework, which ensured freedom for religious expression and freedom from religious discrimination, but also within the context of state initiatives to affirm cultural diversity and mobilize unifying resources for social transformation. Accordingly, this article examines South Africa's policy for religion and public education as an index for understanding post-apartheid efforts in redefining the state as a constitutional, cultural, and transformative state.