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UKZN Press

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Black Consciousness and Progressive Movements under Apartheid presents an intellectual history of Black Consciousness in SA in the comparative perspective that Biko originally called for

Accounts of Black Consciousness have tended to place the discourse in a continuum of resistance to white minority rule and to assess its significance in bringing about the downfall of apartheid.

While these are valid historical narratives, they have occluded some of the wider resonances and significance of both the movement and the body of ideas.

This book takes its cue from Steve Biko’s own injunction to see the evolution of Black Consciousness alongside other political doctrines and movements of resistance in South Africa. It identifies progressive thought and movements, such as radical Christianity and ecumenism, student radicalism, feminism and trade unionism, as valuable interlocutors that nonetheless also competed for the mantle of liberation, espousing different visions of freedom.

These progressive movements were open to what Ian Macqueen characterises as the ‘shockwaves’ that Black Consciousness created. It is only with such a focus that we can fully appreciate the significance of Black Consciousness, both as a movement and as an ideology emanating from South Africa in the late 1960s and 1970s. Black Consciousness and Progressive Movements under Apartheid thus presents an intellectual history of Black Consciousness in South Africa in the comparative perspective that Biko originally called for.

Ian M. Macqueen is a lecturer in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria. He is also a research associate of the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand.

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