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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.

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  • Survey of South African Crime Fiction: Critical Analysis and Publishing History by Sam Naidu, Elizabeth le Roux
    EAN: 9781869143558
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Vembe traces the way in which the African oral-story telling tradition survived within the Zimbabwean black novel in English

African Oral Story-telling tradition and the Zimbabwean novel in EnglishThe book traces the ways in which the African oral story-telling tradition survived in several forms within the narrative interstices of the Zimbabwean black novel in English.

The author critically analyses the works of eight well-known Zimbabwean writers and reveals ways in which they use Zimbabwe’s oral story-telling traditions to inform their creative works.

These writers’ work reveals that during colonisation, the liberation struggle and in post-independence Zimbabwe, African orature communicated and continues to communicate views on resistance to authoritarian ideas.

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Sarah Nuttall, Achille Mbembe, and Jean and John Comaroff to discuss the The Truth about Crime at Stellenbosch University

The Truth about Crime is replete with original insights. Reflecting on the disproportionate relationship between fear and actual danger in a number of major countries, Jean and John Comaroff explain why criminality, although far from matching many other potential sources of public peril, elicits much more civic outrage. We learn how changes in the meaning of criminality and the nature of crime-and-policing are associated with the recent shift in the relationship between capital, governance, and the state. We also learn how these developments in both the United States and the Republic of South Africa have resulted in steps taken to discipline or control certain groups defined or viewed as threatening. This is a compelling book, a must-read for scholars and laypersons alike.” – William Julius Wilson, author of The Truly Disadvantaged

The Comaroffs’ constant articulation of sparkling ethnographic vignettes, rich statistical data, and highly imaginative insights makes for a truly effervescent argumentation, creative and, at the same time, thoroughly documented. With this combination they offer a powerful book that newly addresses a theme that is becoming central all over the world: our increasing obsession with (in)security.“- Peter Geschiere, author of Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust
 

In this book, renowned anthropologists Jean and John L. Comaroff make a startling but absolutely convincing claim about our modern era: it is not by our arts, our politics, or our science that we understand ourselves – it is by our crimes. Surveying an astonishing range of forms of crime and policing – from petty thefts to the multibillion-dollar scams of too-big-to-fail financial institutions to the collateral damage of war – they take readers into the disorder of the late modern world. Looking at recent transformations in the triangulation of capital, the state, and governance that have led to an era where crime and policing are ever more complicit, they offer a powerful meditation on the new forms of sovereignty, citizenship, class, race, law, and political economy of representation that have arisen.

To do so, the Comaroffs draw on their vast knowledge of South Africa, especially, and its struggle to build a democracy founded on the rule of law out of the wreckage of long years of violence and oppression. There they explore everything from the fascination with the supernatural in policing to the extreme measures people take to prevent home invasion, drawing illuminating comparisons to the United States and United Kingdom. Going beyond South Africa, they offer a global criminal anthropology that attests to criminality as the constitutive fact of contemporary life, the vernacular by which politics are conducted, moral panics voiced, and populations ruled.

The result is a disturbing but necessary portrait of the modern era, one that asks critical new questions about how we see ourselves, how we think about morality, and how we are going to proceed as a global society.

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Watch: Edward Webster discusses the The Unresolved National Question

The Unresolved National Question in South Africa is an extremely valuable contribution to the decades-long debate on South African nationhood. Its striking feature is its highly professional and balanced approach to the various narratives and traditions that address the National Question.
— Vladimir Shubin, Russian Academy of Sciences

The re-emergence of debates on the decolonisation of knowledge has revived interest in the National Question, which began over a century ago and remains unresolved. Tensions that were suppressed and hidden in the past are now being openly debated. Despite this, the goal of one united nation living prosperously under a constitutional democracy remains elusive.

This edited volume examines the way in which various strands of left thought have addressed the National Question, especially during the apartheid years, and goes on to discuss its relevance for South Africa today and in the future. Instead of imposing a particular understanding of the National Question, the editors identified a number of political traditions and allowed contributors the freedom to define the question as they believed appropriate – in other words, to explain what they thought was the Unresolved National Question. This has resulted in a rich tapestry of interweaving perceptions.

The volume is structured in two parts. The first examines four foundational traditions – Marxism-Leninism (the Colonialism of a Special Type thesis); the Congress tradition; the Trotskyist tradition; and Africanism. The second part explores the various shifts in the debate from the 1960s onwards, and includes chapters on Afrikaner nationalism, ethnic issues, Black Consciousness, feminism, workerism and constitutionalism.

The editors hope that by revisiting the debates not popularly known among the scholarly mainstream, this volume will become a catalyst for an enriched debate on our identity and our future.

Here, co-editor Edward Webster, Professor Emeritus in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at Wits University, discusses the debate surrounding race, gender and class – the unresolved questions our nation is grappling with – on SABC News:

The Unresolved National Question

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Multilingual Education for Africa emphasises the most appropriate ways of teaching and using language in multilingual settings

Multilingual Education for Africa: Concepts and PracticesThe common thread in this book is the exploration of innovative pedagogies in language teaching and language use in education. The greatest danger facing educators is one of complacency.

Whether set in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, South Africa or elsewhere in Africa, all the chapters in this book emphasise the imperative for educators to constantly revise curricula and teaching methods in order to find the most appropriate ways of teaching and using language in multilingual settings.

The chapters in this book place the mother tongue at the centre of learning, while developing the use of exoglossic languages such as English. The book will be of interest to educators at all levels of the education system.

Comprising of 17 chapters, the book is divided into three parts, which addresses the multilingual context of education in Africa, the teaching of additional language in schools, and additional language tuition in higher education.

Everyone interested in comparative education models, language teaching, and language use in multilingual contexts of all cycles of education, will find this book useful.

Prof Russell H. Kaschula is the NRF SARChI Chair: Intellectualisation of African Languages, Multilingualism and Education, School of Languages & Literatures (African Language Studies Section), Rhodes University.

Prof H. Ekkehard Wolff, Universität Leipzig, is Visiting Professor to the NRF SARChI Chair: Intellectualisation of African Languages, Multilingualism and Education, School of Languages & Literatures (African Language Studies Section), Rhodes University.

Dedicated to the memory of Neville Alexander, the book opens with a tribute to this South African who was directly engaged in advocacy around issues of language, multilingualism and literacy.

Contents:
Dedication: A tribute to Neville Alexander
PART 1: THE MULTILINGUAL CONTEXT OF EDUCATION IN AFRICA
Chapter 1: Introduction – The multilingual context of education in Africa
Chapter 2: Teaching isiZulu as an additional language
Chapter 3: Developing reading literacy in an L2 learning environment
Chapter 4: Teaching mathematics to isiXhosa-speaking students through Afrikaans
Chapter 5: IsiNdebele and minority languages in education in Zimbabwe
Chapter 6: The teaching and learning of African languages at South African universities
PART 2: TEACHING ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE IN SCHOOLS
Chapter 7: Children’s dictionaries
Chapter 8: Improving educational practice
Chapter 9: The language of instruction at early childhood development level
Chapter 10: The impact of pupils’ background and school context
PART 3: USING ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Chapter 11: Piloting Oromo-English bilingual teaching at tertiary level
Chapter 12: Additional English at tertiary level
Chapter 13: A multilingual approach to teaching South African History
Chapter 14: IsiZulu at the University of KwaZulu-Natal
Chapter 15: Afrikaans communication skills for Mauritian medical students
Chapter 16: Additional language in secondary and tertiary education
Chapter 17: Designing a vocational English curriculum

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"Blackness is indeed consciousness of black experiences" - Gabriel Apata reviews Critique of Black Reason

In Critique of Black Reason eminent critic Achille Mbembe offers a capacious genealogy of the category of Blackness – from the Atlantic slave trade to the present – to critically reevaluate history, racism, and the future of humanity.

Mbembe teases out the intellectual consequences of the reality that Europe is no longer the world’s center of gravity while mapping the relations between colonialism, slavery, and contemporary financial and extractive capital.

Tracing the conjunction of Blackness with the biological fiction of race, he theorizes Black reason as the collection of discourses and practices that equated Blackness with the nonhuman in order to uphold forms of oppression. Mbembe powerfully argues that this equation of Blackness with the nonhuman will serve as the template for all new forms of exclusion.

With Critique of Black Reason, Mbembe offers nothing less than a map of the world as it has been constituted through colonialism and racial thinking while providing the first glimpses of a more just future.

Here, Dr. Gabriel O Apata reviewed Critique of Black Reason for the journal Theory, Culture & Society:

Kant’s first Critique may be described as an attempt to hoist reason up out of the contamination and impurities of subjectivity and relativity onto to a transcendental plane where alone it can possess objectivity and universality. This then is pure reason, whose critique lays down the law for very basis for human knowledge, its limits and which asks whether metaphysics is at all possible. But Kant’s universality turns out not to be universal after all since it excludes or does not admit of certain groups, in particular black people on the basis that they lack reason. The question is can there be such a thing as black reason? If reason does come in colours could it ever be objective? This is the question that Achille Mbembe in his new six-chaptered book Critique of Black Reason (2017) sets out to explore. Mbembe not only believes there is such a thing as black reason but he thinks he knows what it is and what stuff it is made of.

So what is black reason? According to Mbembe ‘Black reason consists of a collection of voices, pronouncements, discourses, forms of knowledge, commentary and nonsense, whose object is things or people of “African origin” (p.27). He goes on to say that ‘Black reason names not only a collection of discourses but also practices….’ (p.28). But this will not do since this definition of black reason can equally apply to any other group. For instance if we substitute the ‘black’ and ‘African origin’ in his statement for ‘white’ and ‘European origins’ we end up with nothing to distinguish between the two except difference in cultures. But hold that thought, because that is precisely Mbembe’s point. The Western idea of reason is different from black or African idea of reason because both are products of different geographies (Europe and Africa) and also experiences. Mbembe suggests that contact between both worlds has produced two narratives: the Western Consciousness of Blackness and Black Consciousness of Blackness.

With regards to White consciousness of blackness Mbembe takes us on a historical tour, through the vicissitudes of the black experience that have shaped black consciousness, which are the three most important epoch-making events in black history: slavery, colonialism and Apartheid. This is the familiar story of conquest, oppression, subjugation, persecution and so on. Western consciousness of blackness is thus a category construct that is like a prison within which are quartered cellars and doors through which the black man passes or is let through, at will, into rooms, as though on a production line where he is shaped, boxed, stamped and eventually produced, as blackness. Like the slaves in Plato’s cave, blackness is shackled against a wall where it sees only images and not reality and where he is denied not only freedom, but also the light of reason. It cannot attain knowledge of pure forms but only copies of reality, hence it cannot be admitted into Kant’s kingdom of ends. They have no access to the realms above because, as we mentioned, they lack reason. As Mbembe points out, ‘Reason in particular confers on the human a generic identity, a universal essence, from which flows a collection of rights and values. It unites all humans…. The question …was whether blacks were human beings like all others’ (p.85). The answer for many was no. Indeed, Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative that exhorts us to treat humanity not as a means but as an end in himself did not apply to black people. The idea of absolute or intrinsic value, of ‘supreme limiting condition’ that Kant thought is the very measure of humanity also did not apply to the black man for the same reasons as stated above. Hence the justification for their use as instrumental value.

With regards to black consciousness of blackness, Mbembe points out that ‘Black – we must not forget – aspires also to be a color. The color of obscurity. In this view Black is what lives in the night. Night is its original envelope, the tissue out of which its flesh is made. It is a coat of arms, its uniform’ (p.152). Psychologically, Black is like a victim of locked-in syndrome, within a skin that the bearer never chose but within the confines of which the victim is aware of what is happening to him but remains powerless to express thoughts and feelings. In this prison only two options are open to the black man, either to acquiesce and die or struggle and survive. Out of this fight for survival ‘the struggle to the death’ emerges the narrative of black consciousness.

But Mbembe’s idea of two consciousnesses is classic Hegelian master and slave dialect, a co-dependent relationship in which both are trapped, and within which each holds up a mirror to the other and from the ensuing reflection both become conscious (aware) of each other and of themselves.

Continue reading Apata’s review here.

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