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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Is crime fiction the new ‘political novel’ in South Africa? A complete survey of local crime fiction from the 19th century to the present day

Survey of South African Crime FictionIs crime fiction the new ‘political novel’ in South Africa? Why did the apartheid censors disapprove of crime fiction more than any other genre?

Crime fiction continues to be a burgeoning literary category in post-apartheid South Africa, with more new authors, titles and themes emerging every year. This book is the first comprehensive survey of South African crime fiction. It provides an overview of this phenomenally successful literary category, and places it within its wider social and historical context.

The authors specialise in both literary studies and print culture, and this combination informs a critical analysis and publishing history of South African crime fiction from the nineteenth century to the present day. The book provides a literary lineage while considering different genres and sub-genres, as well as specific themes such as gender and eco-criticism.

The inclusion of a detailed bibliography of crime fiction since the 1890s makes A Survey of South African Crime Fiction an indispensable teaching and study aid.
 

Sam Naidu is an associate professor in the Department of English at Rhodes University. Her main research and teaching areas include South African crime/detective fiction; transnational literature; the poetry of Emily Dickinson; monstrous, grotesque and abject bodies in literature; and the oral-written interface in colonial South Africa.

Elizabeth le Roux is an associate professor and the co-ordinator of Publishing Studies in the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria. She is co-editor of the journal Book History, and her research focuses on the history of books and publishing in South Africa and in Africa more broadly. She recently published A Social History of the University Presses in Apartheid South Africa.

Book details

  • Survey of South African Crime Fiction: Critical Analysis and Publishing History by Sam Naidu, Elizabeth le Roux
    EAN: 9781869143558
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The Art of Life in South Africa is very much about how people lived in conversation (and limited by) their perception of the possible” – read the JRB interview with Daniel Magaziner

From 1952 to 1981, South Africa’s apartheid government ran a school for the training of African art teachers at Indaleni, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal.

The Art of Life in South Africa is about the students, teachers, art, ideas, and politics that led to the school’s founding, and which circulated during the years of its existence at a remote former mission station.

It is a story of creativity, beauty, and community in twentieth-century South Africa.
 
 
 
Daniel Magaziner radically reframes apartheid-era South African history. Against the dominant narrative of apartheid oppression and black resistance, this book focuses instead on a small group’s efforts to fashion more fulfilling lives through the ironic medium of an apartheid-era school. Lushly illustrated with almost 100 images, this book gives us fully formed lives and remarkable insights into life under segregation and apartheid.

Daniel Magaziner is associate professor of history at Yale University. He is the author of The Law and the Prophets: Black Consciousness in South Africa, 1968–1977.

‘A richly suggestive and moving contribution to South African intellectual history.’
— Achille Mbembe, author of Critique of Black Reason

‘This book is as important for students of global modernism as it is for scholars of South African art, history, and politics.’
— Tamar Garb, author of Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography

‘A profoundly human story of the institutional and social constraints under which African artists operated and the different ways they sought to produce beauty in the midst of oppression.’
— Frederick Cooper, author of Africa in the World: Capitalism, Empire, Nation-State

‘A meditation on what happens if we examine a past that is shaped by broader historical forces (in this case apartheid) but that cannot be reduced to them.’
— Clifton Crais, coeditor of The South Africa Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Daniel recently was in South Africa for the launch of The Art of Life in South Africa, during which he was interviewed by Johannesburg Review of Books editor, Jennifer Malec:

The JRB: The Art of Life in South Africa centres mainly on Ndaleni, an apartheid-era, government-funded art teacher training school outside Richmond in the Natal Midlands that has been all but forgotten. How did you come across this story?

Daniel Magaziner: Like most students of South African history, I had never heard of Ndaleni before I began to do this research. I was attempting to research the intellectual history of black artists during the twentieth century and was spending many hours in the basement of the Johannesburg Art Gallery getting frustrated because the voices and opinions of white reviewers were drowning up whatever artists’ voices I could access. I was reading a short biography of an artist named Dan Rakgoathe and learned that he had corresponded with someone named ‘L Peirson’. There were generous excerpts from his letters, which led me to think that these files might be a useful source, so I tracked them down at the Campbell Collections in Durban. Long story short, it turned out that L Peirson was the head teacher at the Ndaleni art school, where Rakgoathe had studied during the early 1960s, and that the Campbell Collections held the entire archive of the school, in a cabinet locked since the early 1980s. The Rakgoathe correspondence file was voluminous and it was only one among many similarly voluminous files.

The JRB: Why do you think Ndaleni has been neglected in South African art history?

Daniel Magaziner: I think there are many reasons why the school has been neglected in art history; I’ll highlight two. The first is that it was not in the strictest sense an art school and art history, both in South Africa and elsewhere, is a very elitist discipline that typically focuses on those artists who were trained and identified as such at the expense of those cultural producers who come from a different tradition and practice. Ndaleni was a teacher training institution, first and foremost; the students were to be art teachers, not artists. To this we can add the second element: it was a government school, run by and for the purposes of Bantu Education. This reality is at odds with the conventional wisdom on South African art, which has long been interested in the intersection between artists and resistance and certainly not interested in exploring the co-production of South African art and separate development. I surveyed art historical texts about black South African art from the 1960s through the present and this process of forgetting was quite apparent. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ndaleni was well known both to people interested in South African art, both locals and internationals, before it was gradually effaced as other black artists with more ‘conventional’ training and politics rose to prominence. The end result of this was made quite clear in Wits University Press’s recent multi-volume collection, Visual Century, where the Ndaleni school earns a only a paragraph.

The JRB: Your first book, The Law and the Prophets, focused on Black Consciousness and the student and resistance movements of 1970s South Africa, when politics was seen as a ‘way of being’ and was a dominant force in the world of art specifically. In The Art of Life in South Africa, the picture is subtly different. Could you talk a little bit about that difference?

Daniel Magaziner: Like many Americans of my generation, I was first exposed to South African history through the lens of the struggle against apartheid. Steve Biko and Black Consciousness were a tremendous intellectual and political inspiration for me personally and I was fortunate to spend many years studying and writing about the movements and its times. But even as I continue to be fascinated and inspired by its politics, I have also begun to recognise that Biko and his comrades were exceptional (as revolutionaries often are) and not necessarily representative of a more widespread intellectual experience under apartheid. More common than those who ‘were’ against the system were those who strove to live along the grain of what the system allowed; this was true in South Africa and it remains true around the world, where the majority of human beings struggle to find meaning and self-definition within the realm of the possible, rather than by probing beyond current realities (as Biko had once done). The Art of Life in South Africa is very much about how people lived in conversation (and limited by) their perception of the possible, something I strive to get at by considering subjects such as the material limitations of art production, for example, as well as the ethical compromises that training at a government institution and teaching in Bantu Education entailed. My argument is a classically historicist one—the beauty and worth such historical subjects produced must be seen in the light of context in order to be assessed and understood.

Continue reading their interview here.

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

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.

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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.

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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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Cape Town launch: The Swimming Lesson and other stories

UKZN Press and the Book Lounge invite you to the launch of Kobus Moolman’s short story anthology The Swimming Lesson and other stories on the 13th of June.

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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.

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