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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

To which extent is South Africa becoming a surveillance society governed by a surveillance state? asks Jane Duncan in Stopping the Spies

This book makes a timely contribution to the study of surveillance in the South African context. It is important reading not only because of the detailed information it provides about threats to citizen freedoms in post-apartheid South Africa, but also for its constructive suggestions for public agency and resistance.
— Herman Wasserman, Professor of Media Studies and Director: Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town

In 2013, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked secret documents revealing that state agencies like the NSA had spied on the communications of millions of innocent citizens.

International outrage resulted, but the Snowden documents revealed only the tip of the surveillance iceberg.

Apart from insisting on their rights to tap into communications, more and more states are placing citizens under surveillance, tracking their movements and transactions with public and private institutions.

The state is becoming like a one-way mirror, where it can see more of what its citizens do and say, while citizens see less and less of what the state does, owing to high levels of secrecy around surveillance. In this book, Jane Duncan assesses the relevance of Snowden’s revelations for South Africa.

In doing so she questions the extent to which South Africa is becoming a surveillance society governed by a surveillance state.
 

Duncan challenges members of civil society to be concerned about and to act on the ever-expanding surveillance capacities of the South African state.

Is surveillance used for the democratic purpose of making people safer, or is it being used for the repressive purpose of social control, especially of those considered to be politically threatening to ruling interests? She explores the forms of collective action needed to ensure that unaccountable surveillance does not take place and examines what does and does not work when it comes to developing organised responses.

This book is aimed at South African citizens, academics as well as the general reader, who care about our democracy and the direction it is taking.

Jane Duncan is a professor in the Department of Journalism, Film and Television, at the University of Johannesburg. Before that, she held a chair in Media and the Information Society at Rhodes University, and was the Executive Director of the Freedom of Expression Institute. She is author of The Rise of the Securocrats: The Case of South Africa (2014) and Protest Nation: The Right to Protest in South Africa (2016).

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“His thinking was far from linear or singular.” Read an excerpt from the introduction to Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics

The revolutionary and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon was a foundational figure in postcolonial and decolonial thought and practice, yet his psychiatric work still has only been studied peripherally. That is in part because most of his psychiatric writings have remained untranslated.

With a focus on Fanon’s key psychiatry texts, Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics considers Fanon’s psychiatric writings as materials anticipating as well as accompanying Fanon’s better known works, written between 1952 and 1961 (Black Skin, White Masks; A Dying Colonialism, Toward the African Revolution, The Wretched of the Earth).

Both clinical and political, they draw on another notion of psychiatry that intersects history, ethnology, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. The authors argue that Fanon’s work inaugurates a critical ethnopsychiatry based on a new concept of culture (anchored to historical events, particular situations, and lived experience) and on the relationship between the psychological and the cultural. Thus, Gibson and Beneduce contend that Fanon’s psychiatric writings also express Fanon’s wish, as he puts it in The Wretched of the Earth, to “develop a new way of thinking, not only for us but for humanity.”

Nigel C. Gibson is Associate Professor of Postcolonial Studies at Emerson College. He is author of Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003) and Fanonian Practices in South Africa (2014), and the editor of Rethinking Fanon (1999) and Living Fanon (2011). He is the editor of the Journal of Asian and African Studies.

Roberto Beneduce is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Turin. He is the founding director of the Frantz Fanon Center in Turin. His recent publications include a collection of Fanon’s psychiatric writings in Italian, Decolonizzare la follia, Scritti sulla psichiatria coloniale (2011), and L’histoire au corps (Embodying History) (2016).

Read an excerpt from the introduction to Gibson and Beneduce’s astute book, as published in The Con Magazine, here:

1952 to 1961: in the space of less than ten years, Frantz Fanon defended his medical thesis in France, took up his post as a psychiatrist at Blida-Joinville Hospital in Algeria, wrote three books, and produced articles for Esprit, Consciences Maghribines, L’information psychiatrique, La Tunisie Médicale, Maroc Médicale, and El Moudjahid (the organ of the National Liberation Front).

In this incredibly short period of time the accelerating pace of events seems to have imposed on his writing its own unique, peremptory rhythm — almost as if the author was somehow unconsciously aware of his own impending death, at only thirty-six years of age.

Fanon wrote his first book, Peau noire, masques blancs (Black Skin, White Masks) (1952) and his last book, Les damnés de la terre (The Wretched of the Earth) (1961) within the same timeframe.

And while there is no epistemological break between these two works, no simple correlation can be drawn between them either.

We confront in Fanon’s writing, both the openness of his thought and the specificity of its contexts. Between Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched, we can situate Fanon’s work as a psychiatrist committed to a broad criticism of colonial epistemology.

Like the political articles he wrote for El Moudjahid, many of his psychiatric articles are specific, situational, and concrete. In this sense, they are less developed theoretically than his major works, and many are viewed as peripheral to Fanon’s three books and the collection of his political writings that has been available to English readers since the mid-1960s.

In what sense, then, can we consider Fanon’s psychiatric writings part of his oeuvre?

Continue reading here.

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Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics a “marvelous work of political psychology”

The historical nuance and meticulous analysis make Gibson and Beneduce’s Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics more than a work on Fanon’s psychiatric thought. It’s a political history of psychiatry both as a colonial and anti-colonial practice. The former is its unfolding under colonial conditions. The latter is the fact of agency among psychiatrists and psychologists from below … It’s a marvelous work (in its own right) of political psychology and even better: it addresses the lacunae in other works – namely, their failure to address colonization, race, and sexuality.
— Lewis R. Gordon, Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies, University of Connecticut

The revolutionary and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon was a foundational figure in postcolonial and decolonial thought and practice, yet his psychiatric work still has only been studied peripherally. That is in part because most of his psychiatric writings have remained untranslated.

With a focus on Fanon’s key psychiatry texts, Frantz Fanon, Psychiatry and Politics considers Fanon’s psychiatric writings as materials anticipating as well as accompanying Fanon’s better known works, written between 1952 and 1961 (Black Skin, White Masks; A Dying Colonialism, Toward the African Revolution, The Wretched of the Earth).

Both clinical and political, they draw on another notion of psychiatry that intersects history, ethnology, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. The authors argue that Fanon’s work inaugurates a critical ethnopsychiatry based on a new concept of culture (anchored to historical events, particular situations, and lived experience) and on the relationship between the psychological and the cultural. Thus, Gibson and Beneduce contend that Fanon’s psychiatric writings also express Fanon’s wish, as he puts it in The Wretched of the Earth, to “develop a new way of thinking, not only for us but for humanity.”

Nigel C. Gibson is Associate Professor of Postcolonial Studies at Emerson College. He is author of Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination (2003) and Fanonian Practices in South Africa (2014), and the editor of Rethinking Fanon (1999) and Living Fanon (2011). He is the editor of the Journal of Asian and African Studies.

Roberto Beneduce is Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of Turin. He is the founding director of the Frantz Fanon Center in Turin. His recent publications include a collection of Fanon’s psychiatric writings in Italian, Decolonizzare la follia, Scritti sulla psichiatria coloniale (2011), and L’histoire au corps (Embodying History) (2016).

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“It covers all the issues of our country” – Paul Slabolepszy on his award-winning play Suddenly the Storm

Paul Slabolepszy’s Suddenly the Storm set in Johannesburg’s East Rand at the home of an ageing former police officer Dwayne Combrink and his much younger wife Shanell, poses the question of whether the wounds of the past can ever truly be healed.

Combative, volatile, constantly on the verge of exploding, Dwayne and Shanell Combrink are two halves of a white South African workingclass couple, living an uneasy truce as they struggle with the day-to-day trials of scraping together a living and dreaming competing dreams.

But beneath Dwayne’s angry, violent exterior lies the heartbreak that governs his attitude to life. Dwayne is a man in mourning. Shanell believes his current level of despair was sparked by the death of his childhood friend and recent work partner, Jonas, but the source of his mourning and anger lies much further back. When the elegant and self-contained Namhla Gumede, born on 16 June 1976, arrives on their doorstep seeking answers to questions that have remained buried for 40 years, Dwayne and Shanell finally find out the truth.

What starts as a smouldering dark comedy suddenly turns into a roller-coaster ride of startling revelations, rage and recrimination … before the storm finally breaks.

Here Paul discusses his Naledi award-winning play on SABC:


 

Suddenly the Storm

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Paul Slabolepszy’s new play, Suddenly the Storm, wins coveted award for Best New South African Script

Paul Slabolepszy’s new play, Suddenly the Storm has won the coveted Naledi award for Best New South African Script. The play script was recently published by Wits University Press. Zakes Mda, award-winning playwright and novelist said of the play, “Slabolepszy is a master of dialect which makes his East Rand characters so authentic you could be sitting in a bar in one of these Ekurhuleni towns listening to their real-life equivalents and laughing at their jokes.”

Apart from winning the award for Best New South African Script for Slabolepszy, the play won two more awards from its six nominations at the Naledi Theatre Awards in Johannesburg, winning Best Theatre Set Design and Best Lighting Design.

Slabolepszy is an acclaimed playwright, as well as radio, television and screenwriter of more than thirty plays. A selection of his play scripts have been published by Wits University Press as Mooi Street and Other Moves. The book, a collection of six plays written between 1984 and 1993 was recently reprinted.

Veronica Klipp, publisher at Wits University Press expressed her delight in the play winning these accolades and added that Slabolepszy’s play scripts had been used by high schools learners as well as university students for many years.

Suddenly the Storm is Slabolepszy’s first new play since 2009 and marks his first return to the stage as an actor in nearly two decades.

The play will be performed with Slabolepszy in the lead role in Durban from 10 to 12 August 2017 at the Playhouse Loft Theatre.

Slabolepszy is a master of dialect which makes his East Rand characters so authentic you could be sitting in a bar in one of these Ekurhuleni towns listening to their real-life equivalents and laughing at their jokes. Through his dialect he is able to elicit real pathos in all his characters … With Slabolepszy you are always waiting for something menacing to happen, and it does in this play.
– Zakes Mda, award-winning playwright and novelist

Paul Slabolepszy’s Suddenly the Storm set in Johannesburg’s East Rand at the home of an ageing former police officer Dwayne Combrink and his much younger wife Shanell, poses the question of whether the wounds of the past can ever truly be healed.

Combative, volatile, constantly on the verge of exploding, Dwayne and Shanell Combrink are two halves of a white South African workingclass couple, living an uneasy truce as they struggle with the day-to-day trials of scraping together a living and dreaming competing dreams.

But beneath Dwayne’s angry, violent exterior lies the heartbreak that governs his attitude to life. Dwayne is a man in mourning. Shanell believes his current level of despair was sparked by the death of his childhood friend and recent work partner, Jonas, but the source of his mourning and anger lies much further back. When the elegant and self-contained Namhla Gumede, born on 16 June 1976, arrives on their doorstep seeking answers to questions that have remained buried for 40 years, Dwayne and Shanell finally find out the truth.

What starts as a smouldering dark comedy suddenly turns into a roller-coaster ride of startling revelations, rage and recrimination … before the storm finally breaks.

Suddenly the Storm

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Mooi Street and Other Moves


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NIHSS Award winners to be announced tonight


The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) Award winners will be announced on Wednesday 29 March 2017. The awards are aimed at recognising and awarding outstanding, innovative and socially responsible scholarship that enhance and advance the fields of Human Social Sciences. They are awarded for the best non-fiction monograph; the best edited non-fiction volume; the best fiction book; the best creative collections, and digital contributions category.

Wits University Press is proud of having 5 finalists in the shortlists for these awards, with two books shortlisted for the best Non-fiction monograph, namely Gabeba Baderoon’s Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid, as well as Susan Booysen’s Dominance & Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma. In the category for best Non-fiction Edited Volume, Wits Press’s urban studies book, Changing Space, Changing City: Johannesburg after Apartheid, edited by Phil Harrison, Graeme Gotz, Alison Todes and Chris Wray is a finalist. And in the category for best Creative Collections in the Visual Arts, Wits Press boasts two finalists. They are Beadwork, Art and the Body – Dilo tse Dintsha/Abundance, edited by Anitra Nettleton, and a book on the work of the artist Penny Siopis, Penny Siopis: Time and Again, edited by Gerrit Olivier.

NIHSS CEO, Prof Sarah Mosoetsa said much work needs to be done to identify, support and promote new South African voices, authors and stories in the humanities and social sciences.

Wits University Press publisher, Veronica Klipp said she is pleased that South African scholarly publishing is receiving recognition through these awards. Apart from contributing to research and scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, it also stimulates public debate on a number of important issues and creates new forms of democratic spaces.


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Benedict Wallet Vilakazi – the ‘Father of Nguni Literature’ – honoured with Order of Ikhamanga

The late Zulu poet, novelist and linguist Benedict Wallet Vilakazi will be honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga today.

The National Orders Awards are awarded annually to those who have “played a momentous role towards building a free democratic South Africa and who also have made a significant impact on improving the lives of South Africans in various ways”.

Vilakazi and Marguerite Poland are the two writers who will be receiving the Order of Ikhamanga this year, an award that recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.

Wits University Press published Vilakazi’s first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (Zulu Horizons) – the poetry ever published in isiZulu – and a subsequent volume Amal’eZulu, as well as the first Zulu-English Dictionary, which Vilakazi compiled in collaboration with CM Doke.

Find out more, from Wits Press:

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi has been called the “Father of Nguni Literature”. He was born on 6 January, 1906 at Groutville Mission Station near Stanger in KwaZulu-Natal. The poet grew up in the neighbourhood of the mission station and in 1912 entered the primary school at Groutville, remaining there until he reached Standard 4. He continued his schooling at Marianhill, the Roman Catholic Monastery outside Durban, and after reaching standard 6, took a teacher’s training course.

Vilakazi’s gifts and ambitions came to the fore when he attended the Catholic Seminary at Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, where he devoted much of his spare time to distance education. He succeeded in matriculating, after which he taught at the Ohlange Institute in Phoenix near Durban. In 1934 he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in African Studies. At the time, Vilakazi was already known to academics at the University of the Witwatersrand, which was in the process of publishing his first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (tr: Zulu Horizons). This was the first book of poems ever published in isiZulu; it also marked the launch of the newly established Bantu (later: African) Treasury Series (published by Wits University Press), a collection of 20 classic works written between 1935 and the 1987 in African indigenous languages.

Coincidentally, the University was looking for an assistant in its Bantu Studies Department (now the Department of African Languages). At the insistence of CM Doke, at the time Head of Department, Vilakazi was appointed as Language Assistant in 1935. This appointment made him the first black African in the then Union of South Africa to teach at a white university, and it sparked a controversy: treated with suspicion by conservative whites, it was also seen as a “collaborationist appointment” (1) by some in the black political elite.

Vilakazi continued his own studies and, in 1938, was awarded a Master of Arts degree. In 1946 he reached another milestone by becoming the first black African in South Africa to receive a Doctorate in Literature (D Litt.) from Wits for his thesis The Oral and Written Literature in Nguni.

When Vilakazi entered the literary field, there were no published books of plays or poems written in isiZulu, and from 1930 onwards for 10 years, Vilakazi, HIE and RRR Dhlomo dominated the literary scene. Amal’eZulu (Wits University Press), published in 1945, was later recognized as one the best 100 African books of the twentieth century. Vilakazi also published three novels, Noma Nini! (Marianhill Mission Press), Udingiswayo KaJobe (Sheldon Press) and Nje Nempela (Marianhill Mission Press). In collaboration with Doke, he compiled the first Zulu-English Dictionary (Wits University Press). Writing in 1995, Dumisani Ntshangase asserted that Vilakazi and Doke:

produced the first major lexicographical work in an African language and this dictionary even today stands as the most successful and comprehensive project in African Languages lexicography in South Africa. (2)

In his writings, Vilakazi thought of himself as a spokesperson for his people and he identified with the struggles, fears, sacrifices and aspirations of his people. However, because of the bias towards African literature written in English – a bias that dominated academic discourse as well as debates within the resistance movement of the time – “his works have always been put in the periphery of the African intellectual history.” (3)

Vilakazi died suddenly of meningitis at Coronation Hospital at the age of 41 on 26 October, 1947, survived by five children. He was undoubtedly the most outstanding figure in Zulu literature of his time, and his funeral in Marianhill was attended by thousands of people.

References:

1. Dumisani Kruschchev Ntshangase, Between the Lion and the Devil: The Life and Works of BW Vilakazi, 1906-1947. Paper presented for the Institute for Advanced Social Research, University of Witwatersrand 1995. Page 3.
2. Ntshangase 1995, page 2.
3. Ntshangase 1995, page 1.


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Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt wins British Sociological Association Ethnography Award

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border FarmsCongratulations to Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt, winner of the 2016 BBC Thinking Allowed/British Sociological Association Ethnography Award for his book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.

Thinking Allowed in association with the British Sociological Association offers the annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography: the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or sub-culture.

Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms, explores uncertainty in a post-apartheid South Africa. During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for work as farm labourers. Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependents, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa’s agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform.

Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope, said about Bolt’s book: “In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. Ever alert to the counterintuitive, he shows how stability is fashioned in the midst of the unstable, and how work organises life in a time of mass unemployment. The monograph sheds light on new and important social processes. It is a significant achievement.”

Bolt is a Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham and a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand. His doctoral thesis, on whose research this monograph draws, was awarded runner-up in the biennial Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK.

Listen to an interview with Bolt talking to Laurie Taylor on the BBC (The interview starts at 10:36 minutes in):

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Ilana van Wyk Nominated for the Clifford Geertz Prize for Excellence in the Anthropology of Religion

A Church of StrangersA Church of Strangers: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa by Ilana van Wyk has been nominated for the Clifford Geertz Prize.

Church of Strangers is an ethnographic study of the people involved in The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in post-apartheid South Africa. UCKG, a church movement that began in Brazil, has proved successful and popular in this country and this specific time in history.

Van Wyk seeks to understand the individuals rather than the organisation, which has been condemned as empty and manipulative by outsiders. She has been praised for the rich and thorough research into how religion works in urban South Africa, and how it relates to local perspectives.

This is, according to Huma, exactly what the Clifford Geertz prize looks for:

Awarded by the Society for the Anthropology of Religion, a section of the American Anthropological Association, the prize is named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, in recognition of his many distinguished contributions to the anthropological study of religion.

Read more about the prize on the Society for the Anthropology of Religion site:

In awarding the Prize, the Society hopes to foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.

The Prize will be awarded at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in November, 2015.

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Gabeba Baderoon Included in Karin Schimke’s Badilisha Poetry X-Change Top 10 (Plus: Podcast)

Regarding MuslimsBadilisha Poetry X-Change is a website dedicated to archiving poems by African poets, using categories ranging from “country” to “emotion” to help readers discover new – or rediscover old – voices.

Every month Badilisha invites a poet to curate a group of 10 poets whose work moves them. The latest list was selected by Ingrid Jonker Prize-winning author, Karin Schimke, who included Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid author Gabeba Baderoon among her favourites.

In Regarding Muslims Baderoon takes a look at how Muslims fit into South Africa’s well-known narrative of colonialism, apartheid and postapartheid. This book has just been longlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. The shortlist will be announced in May, with the winner to be announced in June.

Read and listen to Baderoon’s featured poem, entitled “War Tryptich”, and view her biography by visiting the Badelisha site:

WAR TRYPTICH
I. Accounting

The mother asked to stay.
She looked at her silent child.

I was waiting for you.

The quiet of the girls face was a different quiet
Her hands lay untouched by death.

The washer of bodies cut
away her long black dress.

Blue prayer beads fell
to the floor in a slow accounting.

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