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Democracy’s Children?

Masculinities of Coloured Adolescents Awaiting Trial in Post-Apartheid Cape Town, South Africa

Adam Cooper and Don Foster

This study explored the young, marginalised masculinities of 25 boys awaiting trial for various offences in Cape Town, South Africa. The boys came from impoverished areas created by Apartheid legislation and most of the boys were involved in gangs. Through their language and descriptions of practices the boys construct three intersecting discourses of masculinity, as they strive to be the toughest gangster, the sweet “mommy’s boy” and a “gentleman” who provides and protects for his family. Although the boys end up in the criminal justice system awaiting trial, they still have a certain amount of agency, as they slide between discourses and temporarily become gangster superheroes. These boys’ masculinities are bound up with their context: they live in a place with a violent past and a tumultuous post-Apartheid present, precipitating substantially ambivalent subjectivities.

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Democratic Theory

The South African Crucible

Lawrence Hamilton

South Africa's post-apartheid context and a mix of African and non-mainstream Western political theory is felicitous for a positive critique of the two now predominant Western accounts of democracy. The context highlights how deliberative and aggregative accounts of democracy fall short in their attempts to make universal claims regarding democracy; and it provides the theoretical basis for an account of political democracy that better associates democracy with freedom, power, representation, and domination. The article argues that freedom is power through political representation, and freedom obtains if and only if the existing forms of representation manage power relations in order to minimize domination and enhance political judgement amongst representatives and represented. The article submit that, unless radical institutional change is carried out, South Africa will not rid itself of the legacies of these Western models and will be unable to generate the freedom and democracy its attainment of political freedom has now long promised.

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‘Burying the ANC’

Post-apartheid Ambiguities at the University of Limpopo, South Africa

Bjarke Oxlund

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.

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Transforming Museums and Heritage in Postcolonial and Post-Apartheid South Africa

The Impact of Processes of Policy Formulation and New

Gerard Corsane

In post-apartheid South Africa, the traditional understandings of museums and heritage have been challenged in terms of how meaning making, heritage construction, and knowledge production were conducted in the colonial past. In a series of processes of transformation, new approaches to museum action and heritage management have begun to take shape and develop in South Africa. Central to all of this have been the processes of policy formulation and new legislation that have provided the impetus for change. The aim of this article is to briefly chart some of these processes and the subsequent legislation that have begun to affect the ways in which South African heritage and museums are being reconfigured in a postcolonial and post-apartheid era. This policy formulation and the new legislation have focused on extending what is considered to be heritage by including intangible cultural heritage. It has also looked at empowering local communities, with an emphasis on sustainable development.

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Under the Sign of the Gun

Welcome to the Postmodern Melancholy of Gordimer's Post-Apartheid World

Simon Lewis

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.

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Christine Winberg

Narratology is the study of the ways in which narrative organises perception and experience. Narratologists understand narrative as a ‘meta-code, a human universal’ (White 1987), which is instrumental in enabling the re-organisation of time, space, character and event in the construction of meaning in texts. Narratologists draw on different epistemological traditions, and develop different approaches and practices. These approaches can be roughly categorised as belonging to textual, inter-textual, and extra-textual traditions. The textual approach is exemplified by the work of Vladimir Propp (1928/1968), Claude Levi-Strauss (1958/1963), Roland Barthes (1966/1977), Algirdas Greimas (1966/1983), Paul Ricoeur (1985), and Tzvetan Todorov (1990). Narratologists in this structuralist tradition categorize and taxonomize narrative form. Propp identified 31 ‘narratemes’ (the smallest narrative units, equivalent to morphemes at the sentence level), which occur in all narratives in unvarying sequence; Greimas developed a typology of narrative ‘actants’; and Ricoeur investigated connections between time and narrative to typify ‘configurational activities’ in narrative plots and sequences. These, and other, textual approaches to narrative, show how texts selectively draw on narrative resources (emplotment, ways of representing character, hermeneutic and proairetic codes) in the construction of narrative meaning.

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Open Secrets, Off the Record

Audience, Intimate Knowledge, and the Crisis of the Post-Apartheid State

Jon Soske

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.

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From Religious Transcendence to Political Utopia

The Legacy of Richard Turner for Post-Apartheid Political Thought

Laurence Piper

In recent times South African politics has come to exhibit features typical of many post-colonial contexts, not least the rise of acrimonious and confrontational politics based around personalities and forms of populism. In such contexts rational dialogue and democratic deliberation become increasingly difficult to get going and to sustain. Drawing on Richard Turner's The Eye of the Needle, first published some forty years ago, the paper examines the role religion, and religious organisations, could play in returning such acrimonious public debate to more democratic and visionary grounds. The key point is that religion offers a form of transcendence from the divisive and bitter particularities that animate contemporary political conflicts. It does this through the spiritual affirmation of our shared human worth due to the love of God(s). From this recognition, achieved through spiritual appeals, the conditions for more rational and democratic debate can be retrieved. In addition, religious transcendence redeems the value of utopian thinking, and thus could help re-orientate public debate from a politics of blame for past wrongs to a politics of imagining of future rights.

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The Ant and the Grasshopper

Rationalising Exclusion and Inequality in the Post-apartheid City

Richard Ballard

As with many other genres of storytelling, fables are as much about the socialisation of political values as they are about the amusement of children. Although their timeless appearance presents their truths as absolute, the meanings of fables change as they are reinterpreted through time by particular ideologies. Thus we find that The Ant and the Grasshopper, a children’s favourite about the need for hard work and careful saving, has recently been commandeered by conservative adults who are searching for ever more coded ways of communicating in today’s anti-racist contexts. This story is attributed to Æsop, a mythical sixth century B.C. slave and storyteller (Adrados 1999). During the renaissance, Europe’s fascination with antiquity prompted renewed interest in Æsop’s fables as vehicles of commentary on the politics of the time (Hanazaki 1993-1994 & Patterson 1991). Their popularity accelerated with the industrial revolution since some of the fables, such as The Tortoise and the Hare and The Ant and the Grasshopper, were particularly suited to the socialisation of selfrestraint and a strong work ethic. The Ant and the Grasshopper tells the story of the ant that worked hard collecting food during summer, while the carefree grasshopper did not. During winter, the ant survived while the grasshopper starved. This story conveyed to children that the threat of lean times was ever present but that hard work would stave off starvation.

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Nation Building and the Battle for Consciousness

Discourses on Education in Post-Apartheid Namibia

Mattia Fumanti

Education carries strong emotional connotation in Africa, not least for its association with emancipation, liberation, and social mobility. Drawing on research conducted in Northern Namibia, this essay examines how education is conceived by a cadre of elite, educated professionals working in the Ministry of Basic Education regional offices. It contrasts these officials' views with those of white settlers, many of whom, in contrast, place their faith in the market, not in a regulatory state—and certainly not in a regional educational office. Whereas elite officials deploy images of education for purposes of state making and state ceremonialism, white businessmen use education to undo officials' authority, with the effect, implicitly, of reinscribing apartheid visions of race and governance. This article draws on, and offers ethnographic evidence in support of, a body of theoretical work on state-ritualized uses of education, civil religion, and the moral character (and counter-morality) of state education.