By Jon Soske
“Ambitious and rivetingly intelligent, Internal Frontiers offers a decolonized model of global history. Located at the intersection of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle with the idea of India, this book rescripts notions of race, empire, nation, diaspora and much more. Exquisitely written with exceptional interdisciplinary depth, it will become a model of intellectual transnational history.”
Isabel Hofmeyr, author of Gandhi’s Printing Press
“This paradigm-shifting book locates a radical strain of South African nationalism in the political firmament of postwar Durban. Deeply researched and beautifully written, Internal Frontiers reveals how insurgent intellectuals such as Anton Lembede and Albert Luthuli, influenced by India’s independence movement and the challenges of building solidarity with Natal’s Indian diaspora, conceived a vision of the nation ‘from below’ that affirmed African agency while also embracing a diverse, multiethnic political community.”
Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“Soske’s combination of ‘high’ political narrative with material histories of class, race and sexuality is indispensable. This book is an extremely important counter to sentimental ideas about social and political relations between Africans and people of South Asian descent in South Africa during turbulent times.”
Antoinette Burton, author of The Trouble with Empire
In this ambitious new history of the antiapartheid struggle, Jon Soske places India and the Indian diaspora at the center of the African National Congress’s development of an inclusive philosophy of nationalism. In so doing, Soske combines intellectual, political, religious, urban, and gender history to tell a story that is global in reach while remaining grounded in the everyday materiality of life under apartheid.
Even as Indian independence provided black South African intellectuals with new models of conceptualizing sovereignty, debates over the place of the Indian diaspora in Africa (the “also-colonized other”) forced a reconsideration of the nation’s internal and external boundaries. In response to the traumas of Partition and the 1949 Durban Riots, a group of thinkers in the ANC, centered in the Indian Ocean city of Durban and led by ANC president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Luthuli, developed a new philosophy of nationhood that affirmed South Africa’s simultaneously heterogeneous and fundamentally African character.
Internal Frontiers is a major contribution to postcolonial and Indian Ocean studies and charts new ways of writing about African nationalism.
Jon Soske is an assistant professor of history at McGill University and research associate at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, University of the Witwatersrand. He has co-edited three books, One Hundred Years of the ANC: Debating Liberation Histories Today, Apartheid Israel: The Politics of an Analogy, and Ties That Bind: Race and the Politics of Friendship in South Africa.
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