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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Read an interview with Larry Swatuk, author of Water in Southern Africa

The University of Waterloo’s Water Institute conducted an interview with Larry Swatuk who recently published his ninth book, Water in Southern Africa.

Here, Swatuk discusses the book, how water professionals and policy makers can be better educated on matters related to water, and the socio-political and socio-economic limitations which challenge water preservation:

Water Institute member and professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, Larry Swatuk, is the author of a new book titled Water in Southern Africa.

Larry lived for 14 years in Africa, primarily in Botswana, where he was a lecturer at the University of Botswana and associate professor of Resource Governance at the Okavango Research Institute. He has published extensively on issues pertaining to the ‘wise use’ of the resources of the Okavango River basin.

Partly due to his training in political science and international relations, Larry specializes not only in decision-making around the use of water resources, but in the training of decision makers for dispute resolution and negotiation on these same resources.

His current research interests focus on the unintended negative consequences of climate change adaptation and mitigation interventions, a concept he labels ‘the boomerang effect.’

In his new book – the first volume in the Off-Centre series which focuses on the social, political and cultural life of South Africa and the southern African region – he argues that we must learn to see water and the region differently if we are to meet present challenges and better prepare for an uncertain, climate-changing future.

We had the opportunity to ask Larry questions about his new book, challenges facing the world water resources, and why interdisciplinary collaboration is important when it comes to tackling complex water problems.

In your publication, “Seeing Invisible Water Challenges,” you talk about a ‘blue water bias’ that exists that makes a “majority of water professionals and policy makers blind to the significant amounts of green water available for human needs.” How can we better educate water professionals and policy makers on the concepts and applications of green water and virtual water?

There is a great deal of path dependence in science – and in life. We are all creatures of habit who grow comfortable trodding along the same path. Every once in a while there is a break from the routine, an idea or an insight emerges to shake us up. It is interesting to note that virtual water – a concept first articulated by Tony Allan for which he was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize some years back – has had greater purchase across the water world than has the idea of green water. Irrigation engineers, however, are well-versed in green water analysis, and rightly so, for most of the world’s food production depends on rainfall or, in Malin Falkenmark’s and Johan Rockstrom’s words: where the rain drop hits the soil. But policy makers and the private sector remain enamored of blue water perhaps because there is more immediate political and economic pay-off to damming, diverting and draining available blue water. Perhaps also, the systems in place have been designed by powerful actors interested in capturing the available resource which, historically, was the water we could see. Beyond the well-watered parts of the world, ‘developing’ states aimed to mimic their ‘developed’ counterparts by capturing water.

Water, in this context, is power: political, economic and social. In my view, powerful actors will continue to be blind to the benefits of green water, and to the potential hazards of living beyond their own water barriers because of current capabilities to import cheap food (i.e. virtual water). But their blindness need not lead us down the same dark path.It also reveals to us the fallacy of many claims pertaining to the state of the world’s water resources: that we are running out, that we are facing a water war, and so on.

In your new book, Water in Southern Africa, you do not shy away from the fact that the challenges for sustainable water management are immense. Drawing on the southern African experience, you argue that we must learn to “see water and the region differently if we are to meet present challenges and better prepare for an uncertain, climate-changing future.” Can you expand on this thought?

It is fitting that a pool of water acts as a mirror. For, in my view, the state of the world’s water resources reflects very accurately the state of our societies. How water is accessed, used and managed clearly shows us the problems and possibilities not only for resource sustainability, but for social inclusion, social justice, and sustainable development broadly defined.

Too much water use research commences from an ahistorical, asocial largely technical and economic perspective. Put differently, whoever has the money and the power gets the water. So, ‘shortages’ are not biophysical, but socio-economic and socio-political. Let me give you an example from Southern Africa, though it is hardly unique in this regard: the region is often portrayed as a ‘success story’ of inter-state cooperation on transboundary waters. At the same time, all countries in the region ‘struggle’ to provide adequate water for the needs of all of their citizens. Are these two separate phenomena? No, they are not, though they are often presented as such. In the case of the former, there is said to be ‘progress’ deriving from human resource capability, adequate finance and so on. In the case of the latter, there is said to be ‘limited or uneven progress’ deriving from the absence of the same. But, in my view, if we see where the water flows, how, to whom and for what purpose, we can clearly see that these conditions are two sides of the same coin. As the saying goes, the first law of hydrology is that water flows toward money. Without doubt, many water challenges may be met with the application of good science supported by adequate finance and appropriate forms of governance and management. But, as a cursory view of the water world shows us, too few people are served by our current approaches and practices.

Continue reading the interview here.
 
About the book:

When it comes to water, we are fed a daily diet of doom and gloom, of a looming crisis: wars of the future will be over water; nearly one-billion people lack access to clean water; river basins are closed so there is no more water to be allocated despite ever-growing demand; aquifers are overdrawn to such an extent that a global food crisis is just around the corner and major cities, such as Bangkok and Mexico, are sinking. And let us not forget about pollution or vector-borne diseases.

The challenges for sustainable water management are massive. Yet, as shown in this book, there are many positives to be drawn from the southern African experience. Despite abiding conditions of economic underdevelopment and social inequality, people rise to the challenge, oftentimes out of necessity and through self-help, but sometimes through creative coalitions operating at different scales – from the local to the global – and across issue areas – from transboundary governance to urban water supply. This first volume in the Off-Centre series argues that we must learn to see water and the region differently if we are to meet present challenges and better prepare for an uncertain, climate-changing future.

Water in Southern Africa

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Crossing the Divide shows how strategies are emerging in the Global South to bridge the divide between the formal and informal economy

While work-related insecurities and worker vulnerability induced by neoliberal globalisation are undeniably affecting an increasing number of workers around the world, Crossing the Divide reveals that the history and legacy of colonialism is shaping the response of the Global South in ways that are quite different from that of the North.

Comparing precarious work in India, Ghana and South Africa, this book shows how innovative organisational strategies are emerging in the Global South to bridge the widening divide between the formal and informal economy.

Farm workers in Ghana, India and South Africa are challenging colonial-type work practices. Municipal workers in Johannesburg and Accra are organising collectively. In the cities of India, Ghana and South Africa, workers in domestic service, unregulated factories and home-based work face difficult conditions with little or no union representation.

Yet, these vulnerable workers are engaging in a range of creative strategies to fight for decent work and living conditions.

The studies in this collection are predominantly ethnographic, drawing on the experiences of vulnerable workers through in-depth interviews, observation and, in some cases, large-scale surveys.

Together they uncover the largely invisible world of the informal economy and vulnerable workers. Crossing the Divide makes clear that informal workers are not passive victims but are building new forms of collective solidarity to promote their rights and interests.

Edward Webster is Professor Emeritus in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He is the author of more than 100 scholarly publications, including Grounding Globalization: Labour in the Age of Insecurity (2008), written with Rob Lambert and Andries Bezuidenhout. The book won the American Sociological Association’s Labor and Labor Movements Section Distinguished Monograph Prize.

Akua Opokua Britwum is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. Her publications cover gender-based violence, gender and economic participation, trade union democracy, and labour force organisation in the informal economy.

Sharit Bhowmik was Professor and Chairperson of the Centre for Labour Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. He engaged in labour studies throughout his working life, with a particular interest in plantation labour and informal work. He was a member of the Subgroup on Plantation Labour of the National Advisory Committee in India and a member of the Expert Committee on Street Vendors in Mumbai.
 

Book details

  • Crossing the Divide: Precarious Work and the Future of Labour edited by Edward Webster, Akua O. Britwum, Sharit Bhowmik
    EAN: 9781869143534
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Book launch – Untitled: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa

A title deed = tenure security. Or does it?

This book challenges this simple equation and its apparently self-evident assumptions. It argues that two very different property paradigms characterise South Africa.

The first is the dominant paradigm of private property, referred to as an ‘edifice’, against which all other property regimes are measured and ranked. However, the majority of South Africans gain access to land and housing through very different processes, which this book calls social or off-register tenures. These tenures are poorly understood, a gap Untitled aims to address.

The book reveals that ‘informal’ and customary property systems can be well organised, often providing substantial tenure security, but lack official recognition and support. This makes them difficult to service and vulnerable to elite capture.

Policy interventions usually aim to formalise these arrangements by issuing title deeds. The case studies in this book, which span both rural and urban contexts in South Africa, examine these interventions and the unintended consequences they often give rise to. Interventions based on an understanding of locally embedded property relations are more likely to succeed than those that attempt to transform them into registered tenures. However, emerging practices hit intractable obstacles associated with the ‘edifice’, which only a substantial transformation of the legal paradigms can overcome.

Donna Hornby is an independent critical researcher for non-governmental organisations on rural land, tenure and agricultural issues.
Rosalie Kingwill is an independent policy and academic researcher specialising in land tenure and property rights.
Lauren Royston is a development planner and researcher who works on tenure security in southern Africa with a range of organisations.
Ben Cousins holds a DST/NRF chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 28 June 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge, 71 Roeland Street, Cape Town | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Philile Ntuli
  • RSVP: booklounge@gmail.com, 021 462 2425
     

    Book Details

    • Untitled: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, Ben Cousins
      EAN: 9781869143503
      Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Launch: Living Together, Living Apart? Social Cohesion in a Future South Africa

These ‘interventions’ are spurred by what in South Africa today is a buzz-phrase: social cohesion. The term, or concept, is bandied about with little reflection by leaders or spokespeople in politics, business, labour, education, sport, entertainment and the media.

Yet, who would not wish to live in a socially cohesive society? How, then, do we apply the ideal in the daily round when diversity of language, religion, culture, race and the economy too often supersedes our commitment to a common citizenry? How do we live together rather than live apart? Such questions provoke the purpose of these interventions.

The interventions – essays, which are short, incisive, at times provocative – tackle issues that are pertinent to both living together and living apart: equality/inequality, public pronouncement, xenophobia, safety, chieftaincy in modernity, gender-based abuse, healing, the law, education, identity, sport, new ‘national’ projects, the role of the arts, South Africa in the world.

In focusing on such issues, the essays point towards the making of a future, in which a critical citizenry is key to a healthy society.

Event Details


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Eusebius McKaiser discusses Tribing and Untribing the Archive on 702

Eusebius McKaiser recently discussed Carolyn Hamilton’s and Nessa Leibhammer’s Tribing and Untribing the Archive: Volume Two on Talk Radio 702.

The pernicious combination of tribe and tradition continues to tether modern South Africans to ideas about the region’s remote past as primitive, timeless and unchanging. Any hunger for knowledge or understanding of the past before European colonialism thus remains to a significant degree unsated, even denied, in the face of a narrowly prescribed archive and repugnant, but insidiously resilient stereotypes.

These volumes track how the domain of the tribal and traditional was marked out and came to be sharply distinguished from modernity, how it was denied a changing history and an archive and was endowed instead with a timeless culture. These volumes also offer strategies for engaging with the materials differently – from the interventions effected in contemporary artworks to the inserting of nameless, timeless objects of material culture into histories of individualised and politicised experience.

The central proposition of these volumes is to make the marooned archive of material culture more visible and more available for consideration as an archival resource than it is currently. They also seek to spring the identity trap, releasing the material from pre-assigned identity positions as tribal into settings that enable them to be used as resources for thinking critically about identity in the long past and in the present.

Professor Carolyn Hamilton is a South African anthropologist and historian who is a specialist in the history and uses of archives. She is National Research Foundation of South Africa chair in Archive and Public Culture at the University of Cape Town. Her publications include The Mfecane Aftermath (1995), Terrific Majesty (1998), and co-editorship of Refiguring the Archive (2002), the Cambridge History of South Africa (2012) and Uncertain Curature (2014).

Nessa Leibhammer is an independent scholar, curator and writer in heritage and material culture. She was previously the Curator of the Traditional Collections at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Exhibitions she has curated include the Jackson Hlungwane – A New Jerusalem retrospective exhibition (2014-15) and Dungamanzi: Stirring Waters where she was lead curator as well as editor of the accompanying catalogue (2005).

McKaiser explored the ‘re-intribing’ of cultures with John Wright, Research Fellow in the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town, and Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Research Manager at the Public Affairs Research Institute.

Listen to the podcast here:

 

Tribing and Untribing the Archive, Volume Two

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Book launch: The Art of Life in South Africa by Daniel R. Magaziner

University of KwaZulu-Natal Press and Adams Books cordially invite you to the launch of The Art of Life in South Africa by Daniel Magaziner.

Event Details


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Read a feature on Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, the main editors and translators of the Jeff Opland Series on Xhosa writers

These features were published in The Sunday Independent.

A feature on Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, the main editors and translators of the Jeff Opland Series on Xhosa writers, recently appeared in the Sunday Independent.

Read an extract from the two pieces here:

It is common when thinking of a literary archive in the South African indigenous languages, to focus only on the knowledge of literary heritage of a few authors and their selected writings.

In particular, writings that were used at the point of the introduction of literacy for didactic purposes are the only considered as a literary canon of the language.

It is also common that these selected writings are studied and appreciated only for their literary attributes or as far as they are able to tell us about the biographies of their writers.

The meaningful value of a literary archive is embodied in a letter written in the newspaper Isigidimi, in 1887 by Wellington W. Gqoba. Writing in his capacity as an editor, he says, “But there are reasons for me not to remain idle but to deal briefly with minor aspects of … chronological stories of our national stories … motivated as I am by national envy in doing so. My fervent desire is that our history should be well known and brought into print because all nations who possess a history continue to live and do not die even if they are fragmented.

We are taught the events of the nations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, of the English and so on, who they were and what they are today. Thus, they are very much alive, because even we who never shared their experiences or saw them, at least today we know something about them. Through their historical books, we see them, we discuss them and make an example of some of their sayings and habits as reflected in their present day legacy.”

Gqoba argues that a literary heritage reflects and preserves the national, social and cultural identity of a nation. He posits that from these we can deduce the knowledge and intellectual thoughts of the society on whom the writings are based, knowledge that can be shared with other nations.

He is the author of the first volume in the Opland Xhosa Literature Collection Series. Most of his works, which appeared mainly in Isigidimi were copied and collected by Professor Jeffrey Opland and form part of Opland’s Library Collection.

The Gqoba volume was published in 2015 and was translated and co-edited by Opland, Maseko and Kuse. The works reflect, through various literary genres, the intellectual thought of the isiXhosa-speaking Nguni people of the Eastern Cape, reflecting the African ways of knowing.

As Series Editors, Opland and Maseko are driven by the possibilities that these works can add to the body of knowledge in various disciplines in the academy.

They say it is sad that the academy is silent about African intellectual thought when Africa is teeming in its presence. The right to speak your language, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, is not enough, if one cannot use it to understand, share and process knowledge in the context of one’s past experiences, and ways of knowing.

Continue reading the features on Opland and Maseko here:

Pamela Maseko Sunday Independent Article

 
 

DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange

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William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali

 
 


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IsiShweshwe traces the origins of the cloth, its early usage, and cultural adaptations

The cross-cultural usage of a particular cloth type – blueprint – is central to South African cultural history.

Known locally as seshoeshoe or isishweshwe, among many other localised names, South African blueprint originated in the Far East and East Asia.

Adapted and absorbed by the West, blueprint in Africa was originally associated with trade, coercion, colonisation, Westernisation, religious conversion and even slavery, but residing within its hues and patterns was a resonance that endured.

The cloth came to reflect histories of hardship, courage and survival, but it also conveyed the taste and aesthetic predilections of its users, preferences often shared across racial and cultural divides.

In its indigenisation, isishweshwe has subverted its former history and alien origins and has come to reflect the authority of its users and their culture, conveying resilience, innovation and adaptation and above all a distinctive South Africanness.

In this beautifully illustrated book Juliette Leeb-du Toit traces the origins of the cloth, its early usage and cultural adaptations, and its emerging regional, cultural and aesthetic significance.

In examining its usage and current national significance, she highlights some of the salient features associated with histories of indigenisation.

An art historian who has a particular interest in African and South African art, Juliette Leeb-du Toit has also had a lifelong interest in design and textiles. She is currently engaged in the recovery of modernisms in design history, the impact of German modernism in South Africa and the impact of China on the arts in South Africa.

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Book launch: The Illustrated Glossary of Southern African Architectural Terms

Franco Frescura, one of the authors of Illustrated Glossary of Southern African Architectural Terms will be giving talks on this book and its impact not only on architecture, but also on an inclusive account of cultural history in SA

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Breathing Spaces – a photographical exploration of the relationship between people and their neighborhoods in Durban


 

Breathing Spaces is a book of environmental portraits, composed of photographs taken in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a few years after South Africa’s democracy. It explores how photographic images can move us, can unlock personal and shared memories, can prompt public debate, can unsettle us and challenge us to think about alternative environmental futures. The photographs in Breathing Spaces explore the relationship between people and three neighbourhoods located south of Durban harbour: Wentworth, Merebank and Lamontville.

Durban’s densely populated southern basin is well known as a flashpoint of pollution perpetrated by South African industries and transnational petrochemical corporations. It is also known for the conflict over plans for further, dirty economic growth.

Breathing Spaces: Environmental Portraits of Durban’s Industrial South presents portraits of people and living spaces taken by social documentary photographer Jenny Gordon. These are interleaved with reproductions of images from family albums and are variously accompanied by extracts from Marijke du Toit’s conversations with the people portrayed, their friends, family and neighbours. A selection of photographs taken by local residents who participated in photographic workshops and exhibitions, held in the particular neighbourhoods, are also included. As a composite portrait, this book presents long histories of personal, communal and familial places in South Durban. It explores the possibilities of photography through conversation, and conversation through photography. It is about the struggle to take personal breath against social and environmental injustice.

Historian Marijke du Toit is based in the Faculty of Arts at the University of the Western Cape, where she works as a specialist for teaching and learning in Higher Education. Before moving to UWC she was based at the History Department of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

Photographer Jenny Gordon lectures photojournalism at the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Grahamstown.
 

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