Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Wits University Press

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Listen: Jean and John Comaroff, authors of The Truth About Crime discuss what crime says of a society

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.

Anna Saldinger recently interviewed the authors on the Californian radio station KPFA. Listen to their conversation here:

Book details

» read article

Don’t miss the launch of Leon de Kock’s Losing the Plot: Crime, Reality and Fiction in Postapartheid Writing at Love Books

Invitation to the launch of Losing the Plot: Crime, Reality and Fiction in Postapartheid Writing by Leon de Kock

Losing the Plot: Crime, Reality and Fiction in Postapartheid WritingWits University Press and Love Books have the pleasure of inviting you to the launch of Leon de Kock’s new book, Losing the Plot: Crime, Reality and Fiction in Postapartheid Writing.

What does South African writing look like in the “post-postapartheid” era, the period in which the high expectations of 1994 and the golden era of the Mandela presidency turned sour? What is a “Postapartheid Writer”?

Poet, novelist and literary critic Leon de Kock will be in conversation with Simon van Schalkwyk, literature scholar and lecturer at Wits University.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 13 October 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Interviewer: Simon van Schalkwyk
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: Corina van der Spoel,

Book Details

» read article

2016 Mail & Guardian Literary Festival celebrates the life and work of Sol Plaatje

Lover of His PeopleSol Plaatje's Native Life in South AfricaSol PlaatjeThree PlaysThe Spirit of Marikana

The seventh annual Mail & Guardian Literary Festival will take place on 8 and 9 October in Newtown, Johannesburg at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre.

The festival will mark the 140th anniversary of the birth of Sol Plaatje, novelist, poet, translator, chronicler and founder member of what is now the African National Congress (9 October, 1876).

Find the full programme and all info about the venue and tickets below.

Event Details

Have a look at the programme:



Book details

» read article

A lively and wide-ranging analysis of postapartheid South African writing: Losing the Plot by Leon de Kock

De Kock has a strong story to tell about writing in the postapartheid era and, more especially, the ‘post-postapartheid’ era, the period in which the high expectations of 1994 and the golden era of the Mandela presidency turned sour. It is detailed, lively, and full of sharp observation.

– Derek Attrridge, professor of English, University of York and co-editor of the Cambridge History of South African Literature

De Kock is concerned both with drawing lines of continuity and mapping trajectories of difference between apartheid and postapartheid fiction … the intervention Losing the Plot makes in the field of South African literary and cultural studies is substantial.

– Harry Garuba, author, poet and Associate Professor at the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town

Losing the PlotIn Losing the Plot: Crime, Reality and Fiction in Postapartheid Writing, well-known scholar and writer Leon de Kock offers a lively and wide-ranging analysis of postapartheid South African writing which, he contends, has morphed into a far more flexible and multifaceted entity than its predecessor:

If postapartheid literature’s founding moment was the “transition” to democracy, writing over the ensuing years has viewed the Mandelan project with increasing doubt. Instead, authors from all quarters are seen to be reporting, in different ways and from divergent points of view, on what is perceived to be a pathological public sphere in which the plot – the mapping and making of social betterment – appears to have been lost.

The compulsion to forensically detect the actual causes of such loss of direction has resulted in the prominence of creative nonfiction. A significant adjunct in the rise of this is the new media, which sets up a “wounded” space within which a “cult of commiseration” compulsively and repeatedly plays out the facts of the day on people’s screens; this, De Kock argues, is reproduced in much postapartheid writing. And, although fictional forms persist in genres such as crime fiction, with their tendency to overplot, more serious fiction underplots, yielding to the imprint of real conditions to determine the narrative construction.

About the author

Leon de Kock is senior research associate in the Department of English at the University of Johannesburg. He is a poet, translator, essayist and occasional writer of fiction. His writing includes the novel Bad Sex (2011); three volumes of poetry: Bloodsong (1997), gone to the edges (2006) and Bodyhood (2010); several works of literary translation; and academic books.

Book details

» read article

Mineworkers gather at Marikana koppie to remember the massacre

The Spirit of MarikanaHundreds of mineworkers and supporters began gathering in Marikana on Tuesday‚ ahead of the fourth commemoration of those who died when a labour protest turned violent on August 16, 2012.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has erected a stage below a koppie near Lonmin’s Marikana mine‚ where 34 people died when police opened fire. 10 others‚ including police officers‚ also died during the labour dispute over a R12 500 minimum wage‚ precipitating events that led to soul-searching over labour laws‚ inequality and the conduct of the police.

Small groups of mineworkers sang as people continued to gather at the site‚ with AMCU arranging music and entertainment ahead of commemorative addresses and messages of support later on Thursday.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa are expected to address the crowd.

The messages are expected to focus on the impact of the event on the lives of mineworkers and their families after they occupied the koppie during the dispute‚ as well as outstanding questions and lack of closure. Criminal and civil proceedings are still pending.

An inquiry chaired by Judge Neels Claassen is investigating suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega’s fitness to hold office and is expected to deliver its findings in August. Phiyega has, meanwhile, approached the North Gauteng High Court to challenge the findings of the Farlam commission of inquiry.

TMG Digital

Book details

» read article

Don’t miss the launch of The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa in Sophiatown

Invitation to the launch of The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa


The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South AfricaYou are invited to join Wits University Press at Sophiatown The Mix (Trevor Huddleston Centre) for the launch of The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa by Luke Sinwell and Siphiwe Mbatha.

On 16 August 2012, 34 black mineworkers were gunned down by the police in what has become known as the Marikana massacre.

The Spirit of Marikana tells the story of the union leaders at the three largest platinum mining companies who survived the barrage of state violence, intimidation and murder which was being perpetrated during this tumultuous period. What began as a discussion about wage increases between two workers in the changing room at one mine became a rallying cry for economic freedom and basic dignity.

Have the lives of mineworkers been transformed since then?

Grassroots leaders Alfonse Mofokeng and SK Makhanya, who formulated and lobbied a living wage for R12 500 for mineworkers, will be in conversation with Luke Sinwell about their experiences.

Also contributing will be Trevor Ngwane, scholar-activist and leader of the Marikana Support Campaign, and Primrose Sonti, Marikana community leader and member of Sikhala Sonke.

Event Details

Book Details

» read article

New: The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa

Luke Sinwell and Siphiwe Mbatha open a window on the struggles of South African miners to overcome not only the opposition of the plutocratic mine owners, but also the opposition of the entrenched union establishment created in an earlier era of upheaval. – Frances Fox Piven, political scientist and sociologist, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

The Spirit of Marikana highlights the crucial role of ordinary workers in changing history. A richly textured, path-breaking history of the labour movement. – Trevor Ngwane, South African socialist and anti-apartheid activist

The Spirit of MarikanaWits University Press is proud to present The Spirit of Marikana: The Rise of Insurgent Trade Unionism in South Africa by Luke Sinwell and Siphiwe Mbatha:

On 16th August 2012, 34 black mineworkers were gunned down by the police under the auspices of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) in what has become known as the Marikana massacre. This attempt to drown independent working class power in blood backfired and is now recognised as a turning point in the country’s history.

The Spirit of Marikana tells the story of the uncelebrated leaders at the world’s three largest platinum mining companies who survived the barrage of state violence, intimidation, torture and murder which was being perpetrated during this tumultuous period.

What began as a discussion about wage increases between two workers in the changing rooms at one mine became a rallying cry for economic freedom and basic dignity.

This gripping ethnographic account is the first comprehensive study of this movement, revealing how seemingly ordinary people became heroic figures who transformed their workplace and their country.

About the authors

Luke Sinwell is a Senior Researcher at the University of Johannesburg. He is co-author of Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer, co-editor of Contesting Transformation: Popular Resistance in Twenty-First-Century South Africa and the author of numerous articles on participatory democracy and contentious politics in South Africa. He is the General Secretary of the South African Sociological Association (SASA).

Siphiwe Mbatha is a co-ordinator of the Thembelihle Crisis Committee (TCC), a socialist civic organisation in South Africa which fights for basic services for all. Siphiwe is also an assistant researcher at the University of Johannesburg. He first visited Marikana the day after the massacre to provide solidarity to the striking mineworkers.

Book details

» read article

Facets of Power: Examining the politics, profits and people in the making of Zimbabwe’s blood diamonds

Facets of PowerNew from Wits Press – Facets of Power: Politics, Profits and People in the Making of Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds, edited by Richard Saunders and Tinashe Nyamunda:

The diamond fields of Chiadzwa in the Marange District, among the world’s largest sources of rough diamonds, have been at the centre of struggles for power in Zimbabwe since their discovery in 2006. Against the backdrop of a turbulent political economy, control of Chiadzwa’s diamonds was hotly contested.

By 2007, a new case of “blood diamonds” had emerged, in which the country’s security forces engaged with informal miners and black market dealers in the exploitation of rough diamonds, violently disrupting local communities and looting a key national resource. The formalisation of diamond mining in 2010 introduced new forms of large-scale theft, displacement and rights abuses, with as much as $13 billion now estimated by government to have gone missing.

Facets of Power is the first comprehensive account of the emergence, meaning and profound impact of Chiadzwa’s diamonds. Drawing on new fieldwork and published sources, the contributors present a graphic and accessibly written narrative of corruption and greed, as well as resistance by those who have suffered at the hands of the mineral’s secretive and violent beneficiaries.

If the lessons of resistance have been mostly disheartening, they also point towards more effective strategies for managing public resources, and mounting democratic challenges to elites whose power is sustained by preying on them.

A shocking account of the Marange diamond tragedy which, instead of uplifting the lives of the poverty-stricken local people living in one of the most arid regions of Zimbabwe, dashed their hopes and exposed the ruthless and inhuman nature of a corrupt, selfish and shameless regime. This well-researched book is a must read, not only for this our present generation but for posterity – with a view to saying “never again”.

The Rt Rev. Dr S Bakare – Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Harare

London and Antwerp are famous for major diamond robberies. These are nothing compared with what happened in Zimbabwe. Facets of Power is an insider’s look at one of the greatest and most disgraceful diamond heists of all time. It will help to ensure that Marange crimes and the criminals who committed them are not forgotten.

- Ian Smillie, author of Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade, and Diamonds

About the editors

Richard Saunders is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada.

Tinashe Nyamunda is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Book details

» read article

Presenting Fiona Moolla’s Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms

Natures of AfricaComing soon from Wits University Press, Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms edited by Fiona Moolla:

Foreword by Byron Caminero-Santangelo:

Environmental and animal studies are rapidly growing areas of interest across a number of disciplines. Natures of Africa is one of the first edited volumes which encompasses transdisciplinary approaches to a number of cultural forms, including fiction, non-fiction, oral expression and digital media. The volume features new research from East Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the ecocritical and eco-activist “powerhouses” of Nigeria and South Africa.
The chapters engage one another conceptually and epistemologically without an enforced consensus of approach. In their conversation with dominant ideas about nature and animals, they reveal unexpected insights into forms of cultural expression of local communities in Africa. The analyses explore different apprehensions of the connections between humans, animals and the environment, and suggest alternative ways of addressing the challenges facing the continent. These include the problems of global warming, desertification, floods, animal extinctions and environmental destruction attendant upon fossil fuel extraction.

There are few books that show how nature in Africa is represented, celebrated, mourned or commoditised. Natures of Africa weaves together studies of narratives – from folklore, travel writing, novels and popular songs – with the insights of poetry and contemporary reflections of Africa on the worldwide web. The chapters test disciplinary and conceptual boundaries, highlighting the ways in which the environmental concerns of African communities cannot be disentangled from social, cultural and political questions.

This volume draws on and will appeal to scholars and teachers of oral tradition and indigenous cultures, literature, religion, sociology and anthropology, environmental and animal studies, as well as media and digital cultures in an African context.

About the editor

Fiona Moolla teaches African Literature at the University of the Western Cape. Her work focuses on the nexus between oral, print and digital cultures, highlighting human, animal, environmental and cosmic relationships.She is the author of Reading Nuruddin Farah: The Individual, the Novel and the Idea of Home.

Foreword Byron Caminero-Santangelo

Chapter 1: “Here is some baobab leaf!”: Sunjata, foodways and biopiracy Jonathan Bishop Highfield

Chapter 2: Shona as a land-based nature-culture: A study of the (re)construction of Shona land mythology in popular songs Mickias Musiyiwa

Chapter 3: The environment as signifi cant Other: The green nature of Shona indigenous religion Jacob Mapara

Chapter 4: Animal praise poetry and the Samburu desire to survive James Maina Wachira

Chapter 5: Voluntourism paradoxes: Strategic visual tropes of the natural on South African voluntourism websites Reinier JM Vriend

Chapter 6: Toward ecocriticism in Africa: Literary aesthetics in African environmental literature Chengyi Coral Wu

Chapter 7: Critical intersections: Ecocriticism, globalised cities and African narrative, with a focus on K Sello Duiker’s Thirteen Cents Antony Vital

Chapter 8: Navigating Gariep country: Writing nature and culture in Borderline by William Dicey Mathilda Slabbert

Chapter 9: Negotiating identity in a vanishing geography: Home, environment and displacement in Helon Habila’s Oil on Water Ogaga Okuyade

Chapter 10: Animal narrators in Patrice Nganang’s Dog Days: An Animal Chronicle and Alain Mabanckou’s Memoirs of a Porcupine Wendy Woodward

Chapter 11: Nature, animism and humanity in Anglophone Nigerian poetry Sule Egya

Chapter 12: Animals, nostalgia, and Zimbabwe’s rural landscape in the poetry of Chenjerai Hove and Musaemura Zimunya Syned Mthatiwa

About the authors

Book details

» read article

“I think Zuma is going to be with us long after he has left office” – Susan Booysen in The Economist

Dominance and DeclineThe Economist refers to Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Susan Booysen in an article speculating on the next president of South Africa.

The Economist names Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa as likely successors to Zuma’s throne.

Ramaphosa is described as having “a sober, Mr Fix-It reputation”, but The Economist believes he would have to build support “softly-softly”.

Dlamini-Zuma, on the other hand, is criticised for her record in government, as health minister, foreign minister and home minister.

The Economist quotes Booysen’s opinion on the tenacity of Zuma’s presidential legacy:

Ms Dlamini-Zuma has said nothing publicly about what she might do if she becomes president. Susan Booysen, author of the book “Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma”, predicts that she would be much like her ex-husband. That worries liberals, who fret that Mr Zuma has undermined institutions that check presidential power and tolerated widespread corruption. “I think Zuma is going to be with us long after he has actually left office,” says Ms Booysen.

Book details

» read article