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Archive for the ‘Southern Africa’ Category

In Race Otherwise Zimitri Erasmus questions the notion that one can know race with one’s eyes, with racial categories and with genetic ancestry tests

Race Otherwise brings together the full amplitude of Zimitri Erasmus’s thinking about how race works. It tunes into registers both personal and social. It is not without indignation, and not … insensitive to emotion and … the anger inside South Africa. It is a book that is not afraid of questions of affect. Eros and love, Erasmus urges, are not separable from the hard work of thinking.’ – Crain Soudien, CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa

Race Otherwise

‘People from different parts of the world ask ‘what mix’ I am. Which would you prefer? Salt and vinegar or cinnamon and sugar? Neither one of my parents was black Black. Neither one of them was white White. I am not half-and-half.’
(from Chapter 1, ‘This Blackness’)

How is ‘race’ determined? Is it your DNA? The community that you were raised in? The way others see you or the way you see yourself?

In Race Otherwise: Forging a New Humanism for South Africa Zimitri Erasmus questions the notion that one can know race with one’s eyes, with racial categories and with genetic ancestry tests. She moves between the intimate probing of racial identities as we experience them individually, and analysis of the global historical forces that have created these identities and woven them into our thinking about what it means to be ‘human’.

Starting from her own family’s journeys through regions of the world and ascribed racial identities, she develops her argument about how it is possible to recognise the pervasiveness of race thinking without submitting to its power. Drawing on the theoretical work of Frantz Fanon, Sylvia Wynter and others, Erasmus argues for a new way of ‘coming to know otherwise’, of seeing the boundaries between racial identities as thresholds to be crossed, through politically charged acts of imagination and love.

Zimitri Erasmus is a professor of Sociology in the department of Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She is the editor of the seminal volume Coloured by History, Shaped by Place: New Perspectives on Coloured Identities in Cape Town (2001) and in 2010 she was a UCT-Harvard Mandela Mellon Fellow. Race Otherwise: Forging a New Humanism for South Africa is her first monograph.

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Healing the Exposed Being presents a new vocabulary and ontology for understanding the Ngoma healing tradition

Healing the Exposed Being is a scholarly, rich and engaging account of the complex and individualised knowledge systems and passages of influence that shape sangoma practices in South Africa. Thornton’s descriptions of and insight into the philosophies, rituals, and objects of the sangoma, and the ancestors, spirits and others beings with whom they work, change our view of these healers as custodians of the living, advisers, philosophers and guardians. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in health and illness in the region.” – Lenore Manderson, Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology, University of the Witwatersrand

In Healing the Exposed Being, Robert Thornton presents a new vocabulary and ontology for understanding fundamental concepts of a regional version of the Ngoma cult, found throughout the Bantu language-speaking areas of Africa.

He is thus able to provide a more integrated anthropological account of beliefs and practices that have survived from pre-colonial to postcolonial times, describing them in their own terms rather than presenting them as a reflex of modernity or reaction to colonialism, or as a consequence of neoliberalism or other social, political, economic or historical factors.

Bungoma, the knowledge and practice of ‘traditional healing’ in eastern Mpumalanga, is built on the fundamental premise that all persons are exposed to each other and to other person-like agents, including ancestors and witches, among others.

This mutual and inescapable exposure is the condition for the possibility of healing, but also ultimately the cause of all illness, misfortune and death. Against this, the sangoma as healer attempts to augment the self of the exposed being through protective magic and by exposing relations between tangible (living human) and intangible (spiritual) agents or persons.

Bungoma comprises multiple modalities including trance, music and rhythm, divination, herbal lore, teaching and learning, craftsmanship and healing. The aim of bungoma is to enable patients to heal themselves by transforming their personal narratives of self.

Thornton brings this local anthropology and its therapeutic applications into relation with global academic anthropology by exploring it through political, economic, interpretive and ecological-environmentalist lenses.

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“My heart is bleeding” – Andrew Mlangeni on how the ANC has diverted from its values

The politics editor of City Press, Rapule Tabane, recently interviewed Andrew Mlangeni after the launch of the account of Mlangeni’s life as political prisoner and Rivonia trialist, The Backroom Boy, written by Mandla Mathebula.

During the interview, Mlangeni discussed his disdain with South Africa’s current political climate.

“I am sad. My heart is bleeding when I see what is happening in the country. People have become so greedy that money is the most important thing. They have lost the values the ANC stood for.

“People have died for this revolution, this freedom. Some went into exile and died there. Others died here internally during the apartheid years, fighting for freedom. They were shot and killed by the apartheid regime. It is sad. Very sad.

“Today, the ANC is deeply divided. Everybody wants a position. People no longer do things on a voluntary basis – they want to be paid for everything that they do. That was not the ANC position,” Mlangeni asserted.

Read Tabane’s complete interview here.

Watch a video of Mlangeni at home in Dube, Soweto speaking about his heartache of how the ANC has diverted from its values:

The Backroom Boy

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Joint book launch – Urban Revolt & Southern Resistance in Critical Perspective

Join the University of Johannesburg Library and the Centre for Social Change for the launch of two books focused on protests and resistance in the Global South: Urban Revolt and Southern Resistance in Critical Perspective.

Speakers will include contributors to the books: Trevor Ngwane, Immanuel Ness and Marcel Parett.

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Launch of Region-building in Southern Africa and African-language Literatures at CTBF

 
Region-building in Southern Africa Wits Press held several talks this past weekend at the Cape Town Book Fair.

On Sunday 17 June Chris Saunders, Dawn Nagar and Gilbert Khadiagala discussed the topics raised in their book Region-building in Southern Africa: Progress, problems and prospectus. Mandy Watson tweeted from the launch using #ctbf:

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African-language LiteraturesInnocentia Mhlambi, author of African-language Literatures, Sizwe Satyo and Mbulingeni Madiba discussed new directions in the study of African-language literatures and isiZulu fiction. Mandy Watson tweeted from the launch, held on Saturday 16 June, using #ctbf:

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