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Gillian Hart Explains the Similar Forces Playing out in Both India and South Africa

Rethinking the South African CrisisGillian Hart, leading political theorist and author of Rethinking the South African Crisis: Nationalism, Populism, Hegemony, recently gave a public lecture entitled “‘Political Society’ and Its Discontents: South African Reflections on Indian Debates” at Rhodes University.

Rhodes has since published an article about the lecture and the ideas Hart shared.

Hart, who is Professor of Geography and Co-chair of Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that thorough analysis of the similarities between India and South Africa “would be helpful for a nuanced analysis of the current socio-politico environment in South Africa”. She says this idea grew out of Rethinking the South African Crisis and explains the important parallels between the two countries.

Read the article:

Prof Hart explained that she became very interested in Indian debates, finding them compelling while writing her last book, Rethinking the South African Crisis: Nationalism, Populism, Hegemony (2014). “I was going to bring India and South Africa into conversation with one another and I wrote a monstrous chapter but realized it was too much new material and took it out. I promised myself I would come back to it later,” she said, noting that the recent election results from both states, essentially creating the largest fascist state the world has ever seen in India, “cinched my interest and I realized I had to pursue the project.”

Prof Hart suggested that the 1990s saw a major turning point for both countries and that three broad sets of forces can be seen to be operating in both countries, including the “ushering in” of neoliberal capitalism by parties of liberation; expansion of democracy with the democratic transition(s); and intensifying expressions of nationalism. These three forces are playing out in parallel but also in distinctively different kinds of ways, she says.

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