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South Africa

South Africa Book List

Cover of 'Steve Biko'

Steve Biko
By Lindy Wilson

Steve Biko inspired a generation of black South Africans to claim their true identity and refuse to be a part of their own oppression. Through his example, he demonstrated fearlessness and self-esteem, and he led a black student movement countrywide that challenged and thwarted the culture of fear perpetuated by the apartheid regime. He paid the highest price with his life. The brutal circumstances of his death shocked the world and helped isolate his oppressors.This

An allAfrica.com 2011 New & Notable Book
Cover of 'The Anatomy of a South African Genocide'

The Anatomy of a South African Genocide
The Extermination of the Cape San Peoples
By Mohamed Adhikari

In 1998 David Kruiper, the leader of the ‡Khomani San who today live in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, lamented, “We have been made into nothing.” His comment applies equally to the fate of all the hunter-gatherer societies of the Cape Colony who were destroyed by the impact of European colonialism. Until relatively recently, the extermination of the Cape San peoples has been treated as little more than a footnote to South African narratives of colonial conquest.During

Cover of 'After Tears'

After Tears
By Niq Mhlongo

Bafana Kuzwayo is a young man with a weight on his shoulders. After flunking his law studies at the University of Cape Town, he returns home to Soweto, where he must decide how to break the news to his family. But before he can confess, he is greeted as a hero by family and friends. His uncle calls him “Advo,” short for Advocate, and his mother wastes no time recruiting him to solve their legal problems.

A Choice “Outstanding Academic Title”
Cover of 'The Law and the Prophets'

The Law and the Prophets
Black Consciousness in South Africa, 1968–1977
By Daniel Magaziner

“No nation can win a battle without faith,” Steve Biko wrote, and as Daniel R. Magaziner demonstrates in The Law and the Prophets, the combination of ideological and theological exploration proved a potent force.The 1970s are a decade virtually lost to South African historiography. This span of years bridged the banning and exile of the country’s best-known antiapartheid leaders in the early 1960s and the furious protests that erupted after the Soweto uprisings of June 16, 1976.

Cover of 'The Uncoiling Python'

The Uncoiling Python
South African Storytellers and Resistance
By Harold Scheub

There are many collections of African oral traditions, but few as carefully organized as The Uncoiling Python. Harold Scheub, one of the world’s leading scholars of African oral traditions and folklore, explores the ways in which oral traditions have served to combat and subvert colonial domination in South Africa.

Cover of 'Land, Memory, Reconstruction, and Justice'

Land, Memory, Reconstruction, and Justice
Perspectives on Land Claims in South Africa
By Cherryl Walker, Anna Bohlin, Ruth Hall, and Thembela Kepe

Land is a significant and controversial topic in South Africa. Addressing the land claims of those dispossessed in the past has proved to be a demanding, multidimensional process. In many respects the land restitution program that was launched as part of the county’s transition to democracy in 1994 has failed to meet expectations, with ordinary citizens, policymakers, and analysts questioning not only its progress but also its outcomes and parameters.Land,

Cover of 'Land, Power, and Custom'

Land, Power, and Custom
Controversies Generated by South Africa’s Communal Land Rights Act
Edited by Aninka Claassens and Ben Cousins

Land tenure rights are a burning issue in South Africa, as in Africa more widely. Land, Power, and Custom explores the implications of the controversial 2004 Communal Land Rights Act, criticized for reinforcing the apartheid power structure and ignoring the interests of the common people.

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Unconquerable Spirit
George Stow’s History Painting of the San
By Pippa Skotnes

George Stow was a Victorian man of many parts—poet, historian, ethnographer, artist, cartographer, and prolific writer. A geologist by profession, he became acquainted, through his work in the field, with the extraordinary wealth of rock paintings in the caves and shelters of the South African interior. Enchanted and absorbed by them, Stow set out to create a record of this creative work of the people who had tracked and marked the South African landscape decades and centuries before him.Un

2009 Herskovits Award finalist
Cover of 'Healing Traditions'

Healing Traditions
African Medicine, Cultural Exchange, and Competition in South Africa, 1820–1948
By Karen E. Flint

Healing Traditions offers a historical perspective to the interactions between South Africa’s traditional healers and biomedical practitioners. It provides an understanding that is vital for the development of medical strategies to effectively deal with South Africa’s healthcare challenges.

Cover of 'Landmarked'

Landmarked
Land Claims and Land Restitution in South Africa
By Cherryl Walker

The year 2008 is the deadline set by President Mbeki for the finalization of all land claims by people who were dispossessed under the apartheid and previous white governments. Although most experts agree this is an impossible deadline, it does provide a significant political moment for reflection on the ANC government’s program of land restitution since the end of apartheid.Land

Cover of 'Slavery, Emancipation and Colonial Rule in South Africa'

Slavery, Emancipation and Colonial Rule in South Africa
By Wayne Dooling

Slavery, Emancipation and Colonial Rule in South Africa examines the rural Cape Colony from the earliest days of Dutch colonial rule in the mid-seventeenth century to the outbreak of the South African War in 1899.For slaves and slave owners alike, incorporation into the British Empire at the beginning of the nineteenth century brought fruits that were bittersweet.

Cover of 'Constructive Engagement?'

Constructive Engagement?
Chester Crocker & American Policy in South Africa, Namibia & Angola, 1981–1988
By J. E. Davies

The notion of engagement represents an indispensable tool in a foreign policy practitioner’s armory. The idea of constructive engagement is forwarded by governments as a method whereby pressure can be brought to bear on countries to improve their record on human rights, while diplomatic and economic contracts can be maintained. But does this approach succeed?

2009 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title  · A Library Journal “Editor’s Pick”
Cover of 'Claim to the Country'

Claim to the Country
The Archive of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd
By Pippa Skotnes

In the 1870s, facing cultural extinction and the death of their language, several San men and women told their stories to two pioneering colonial scholars in Cape Town, Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd. The narratives of these San—or Bushmen—were of the land, the rain, the history of the first people, and the origin of the moon and stars.

Cover of 'Sorcery and Sovereignty'

Sorcery and Sovereignty
Taxation, Power, and Rebellion in South Africa, 1880–1963
By Sean Redding

Rebellions broke out in many areas of South Africa shortly after the institution of white rule in the late nineteenth century and continued into the next century. However, distrust of the colonial regime reached a new peak in the mid-twentieth century, when revolts erupted across a wide area of rural South Africa. All these uprisings were rooted in grievances over taxes.

Cover of 'Natures of Colonial Change'

Natures of Colonial Change
Environmental Relations in the Making of the Transkei
By Jacob A. Tropp

In this groundbreaking study, Jacob A. Tropp explores the interconnections between negotiations over the environment and an emerging colonial relationship in a particular South African context—the Transkei—subsequently the largest of the notorious “homelands” under apartheid.In the late nineteenth century, South Africa’s Cape Colony completed its incorporation of the area beyond the Kei River, known as the Transkei, and began transforming the region into a labor reserve.

A 2007 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
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Rewriting Modernity
Studies in Black South African Literary History
By David Attwell

Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History connects the black literary archive in South Africa to international postcolonial studies via the theory of transculturation, a position adapted from the Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz.

A 2007 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
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J. M. Coetzee and the Idea of the Public Intellectual
Edited by Jane Poyner

J. M. Coetzee and the Idea of the Public Intellectual addresses the contribution Coetzee has made to contemporary literature, not least for the contentious forays his work makes into South African political discourse and the field of postcolonial studies.

Cover of 'A Burning Hunger'

A Burning Hunger
One Family’s Struggle Against Apartheid
By Lynda Schuster

A Burning Hunger shows the human catastrophe that plagued generations of black Africans in the powerful story of one religious and law-abiding Soweto family. Basing her narrative on extensive research and interviews, Lynda Schuster richly portrays this remarkable family and in so doing reveals black South Africa during a time of momentous change.

A 2007 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
Cover of 'The Forgotten Frontier'

The Forgotten Frontier
Colonist and Khoisan on the Cape’s Northern Frontier in the 18th Century
By Nigel Penn

Traditionally, the Eastern Cape frontier of South Africa has been regarded as the preeminent contact zone between colonists and the Khoi—“Hottentots”—and San—“Bushmen.” But there was an earlier frontier in which the conflict between Dutch colonists and these indigenous herders and hunters was in many ways more decisive in its outcome, more brutal and violent in its manner, and just as significant in its effects on later South African history.This

Cover of 'Not White Enough, Not Black Enough'

Not White Enough, Not Black Enough
Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community
By Mohamed Adhikari

The concept of Colouredness—being neither white nor black—has been pivotal to the brand of racial thinking particular to South African society. The nature of Coloured identity and its heritage of oppression has always been a matter of intense political and ideological contestation.Not White Enough, Not Black Enough: Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community is the first systematic study of Coloured identity, its history, and its relevance to South African national life.

Cover of 'We Are Fighting the World'

We Are Fighting the World
A History of the Marashea Gangs in South Africa, 1947–1999
By Gary Kynoch

Since the late 1940s, a violent African criminal society known as the Marashea has operated in and around South Africa’s gold mining areas. With thousands of members involved in drug smuggling, extortion, and kidnapping, the Marashea was more influential in the day-to-day lives of many black South Africans under apartheid than were agents of the state. These gangs remain active in South Africa.In

Choice Outstanding Academic Title
Cover of 'Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid'

Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid
By Belinda Bozzoli

A compelling study of the origins and trajectory of one of the legendary black uprisings against apartheid, Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid draws on insights gained from the literature on collective action and social movements. It delves into the Alexandra Rebellion of 1986 to reveal its inner workings.Belinda

Cover of 'Mandela’s World'

Mandela’s World
The International Dimension of South Africa’s Political Revolution
By James Barber

The demise of apartheid, the release of Nelson Mandela, and a new constitution leading to a democratic government elevated South Africa’s status during the 1990s. Mandela’s World describes and analyzes South Africa’s international development during this momentous decade in which Nelson Mandela stamped his personality on his nation and on the international stage.Despite

Cover of 'Hostels, Sexuality, and the Apartheid Legacy'

Hostels, Sexuality, and the Apartheid Legacy
Malevolent Geographies
By Glen S. Elder

In the last decade, the South African state has been transformed dramatically, but the stubborn, menacing geography of apartheid still stands in the way of that country’s visions of change. Environmentally degraded old homelands still scar the rural geography of South Africa.Formerly segregated, now gated, neighborhoods still inhibit free movement. Hostels, Sexuality, and the Apartheid Legacy is a study of another such space, the converted “male” migrant worker hostel.Professor

Cover of 'Writing a Wider War'

Writing a Wider War
Rethinking Gender, Race, and Identity in the South African War, 1899–1902
Edited by Greg Cuthbertson, Albert Grundlingh, and Mary-Lynn Suttie

A century after the South African War (1899-1902), historians are beginning to reevaluate the accepted wisdom regarding the scope of the war, its participants, and its impact. Writing a Wider War charts some of the changing historical constructions of the memorialization of suffering during the war.Writing a Wider War presents a dramatically new interpretation of the role of Boer women in the conflict and profoundly changes how we look at the making of Afrikaner nationalism.

Cover of 'After the TRC'

After the TRC
Reflections on Truth and Reconciliation
Edited by Wilmot James and Linda van de Vijver

Has South Africa dealt effectively with the past, and is the country ready to face the future? What are the challenges facing both government and civil society in the years ahead? These and other questions are explored in this collection of essays by international and local commentators on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.A range of perspectives on whether the TRC met its objectives of truth and reconciliation is presented.

Cover of 'Workers, War and the Origins of Apartheid'

Workers, War and the Origins of Apartheid
Labour and Politics in South Africa, 1939-48
By Peter Alexander

This book provides a significant revision of South African labor history and makes an important contribution to the debate about apartheid’s genesis. Using a range of untapped sources, it shows that there was far more strike action during World War II than has been officially acknowledged. A new working class, sometimes organized into multiracial unions, won improved wages and softened racial prejudice among white workers.Contradicting

Cover of 'African Apocalypse'

African Apocalypse
The Story of Nontetha Nkwenkwe, a Twentieth-Century South African Prophet
By Robert R. Edgar and Hilary Sapire

The devastating influenza epidemic of 1918 ripped through southern Africa. In its aftermath, revivalist and millenarian movements sprouted. Prophets appeared bearing messages of resistance, redemption, and renewal. African Apocalypse: The Story of Nontetha Nkwenkwe, A Twentieth-Century Prophet is the remarkable story of one such prophet, a middle-aged Xhosa woman named Nontetha.

Cover of 'Black Lawyers, White Courts'

Black Lawyers, White Courts
The Soul of South African Law
By Kenneth S. Broun
· Foreword by Julius L. Chambers

In the struggle against apartheid, one often overlooked group of crusaders was the coterie of black lawyers who overcame the Byzantine system that the government established oftentimes explicitly to block the paths of its black citizens from achieving justice.Now, in their own voices, we have the narratives of many of those lawyers as recounted in a series of oral interviews. Black Lawyers, White Courts is their story and the anti-apartheid story that has before now gone untold.Profess

Cover of 'Facing the Truth'

Facing the Truth
South African Faith Communities and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Edited by James Cochrane, John de Gruchy, and Stephen Martin

The unique desire of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to turn its back on revenge and to create a space where deeper processes of “forgiveness, confession, repentance, reparation, and reconciliation can take place” reflects the spirit of some churches and faith communities in South Africa.

Cover of 'South Africa in Southern Africa'

South Africa in Southern Africa
Reconfiguring the Region
Edited by David Simon

South Africa’s release of Nelson Mandela from prison in February 1990 and the subsequent independence of nearby Namibia heralded other dramatic political and economic changes in southern Africa that have transformed the region from a global flashpoint to one in which peaceful cooperation and development may become the norm.However, the substantial literature on changes in southern Africa has focused on individual nations, areas, or communities.

Cover of 'The Ghost of Equality'

The Ghost of Equality
The Public Lives of D. D. T. Jabavu of South Africa, 1885–1959
By Catherine Higgs

Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu was born in the Cape Colony in British southern Africa on October 20, 1885, when a few African men could vote and the prospects for black equality with the ruling whites seemed promising. He died on August 3, 1959, in the Cape Province of the Union of South Africa, eleven years after the apartheid state had begun stripping blacks of their rights and exorcising the ‘ghost of equality’ with a completeness unparalleled in the country’s history.

Cover of 'Picturing Bushmen'

Picturing Bushmen
The Denver African Expedition of 1925
By Robert J. Gordon

The Denver African Expedition of 1925 sought “the cradle of Humanity.” The explorers returned claiming to have found the “Missing Link” in the Heikum bushmen of the Kalahari—and they proceeded to market this image. As Robert J. Gordon shows in Picturing Bushmen, the impact of the expedition lay not simply in its slick merchandising of bushmen images but also in the fact that the pictures were exotic and aesthetically pleasing.

Cover of 'Colonization, Violence, and Narration in White South African Writing'

Colonization, Violence, and Narration in White South African Writing
André Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, and J. M. Coetzee
By Rosemary Jane Jolly

The representation of pain and suffering in narrative form is an ongoing ethical issue in contemporary South African literature. Can violence be represented without sensationalistic effects, or, alternatively, without effects that tend to be conservative because they place the reader in a position of superiority over the victim or the perpetrator?Jolly

Cover of 'The Decolonization of Africa'

The Decolonization of Africa
By David Birmingham

This bold, popularizing synthesis presents a readily accessible introduction to one of the major themes of twentieth-century world history. Between 1922, when self-government was restored to Egypt, and 1994, when nonracial democracy was achieved in South Africa, 54 new nations were established in Africa.

Cover of 'To Kill a Man’s Pride'

To Kill a Man’s Pride
And Other Short Stories from South Africa
Edited by Marcus Ramogale

The second edition of To Kill a Man’s Pride builds on the success of the previous edition of this anthology of South African short stories by retaining most of stories, but also featuring more women writers and new male voice, to make it more representative.The milieu remains unambiguously South African, with some stories set in rural areas such as the village, farm or dorp, and others in urban centers such as the big city, suburb or township.The

Cover of 'The Migrant Farmer in the History of Cape Colony, 1657–1842'

The Migrant Farmer in the History of Cape Colony, 1657–1842
By P. J. van der Merwe

Petrus Johannes Van der Merwe wrote three of the most significant books on the history of South Africa before he was 35 years old. His trilogy, of which The Migrant Farmer is the first volume, has become a classic that no student of Cape colonial history of the seventeenth, eighteenth or nineteenth century can ignore.

Cover of 'Apartheid’s Genesis'

Apartheid’s Genesis
Edited by Philip Bonner, Peter Delius, and Deborah Posel

Apartheid is synonymous in most people’s minds with a virulent form of racial ideology and social engineering. Yet ideologies of racial domination and segregation long preceded apartheid, and cannot by themselves explain the shift in racial domination that apartheid involved.Focusing on the period 1935–1962, this collection explores the dynamics which molded apartheid.

Cover of 'A Bed Called Home'

A Bed Called Home
Life in the Migrant Labour Hostels of Cape Town
By Mamphela Ramphele
· Photography by Roger Meintjes

In the last three years the migrant labor hostels of South Africa, particularly those in the Transvaal, have gained international notoriety as theaters of violence. For many years they were hidden from public view and neglected by the white authorities. Now, it seems, hostel dwellers may have chosen physical violence to draw attention to the structural violence of their appalling conditions of life.

Cover of 'Liquor and Labor in Southern Africa'

Liquor and Labor in Southern Africa
Edited by Jonathan Crush and Charles Ambler

In June 1976 political demonstrations in the black township of Soweto exploded into an insurrection that would continue sporadically and spread to urban areas across South Africa. In their assault on apartheid the youths who spearheaded the rebellion attacked and often destroyed the state institutions that they linked to their oppression: police stations, government offices, schools, and state-owned liquor outlets.

Cover of 'A Trumpet from the Housetops'

A Trumpet from the Housetops
The Selected Writings of Lionel Forman
By Lionel Forman
· Edited by Sadie Forman and André Odendaal

Lionel Forman died in Cape Town in 1959 at the age of 31. His death occasioned a massive outpouring of grief amongst both black and white opponents of apartheid. At his funeral, Albie Sachs referred to his ‘questing, penetrating mind… He stood way out front, beckoning us onwards.’ The author Lionel Abrahams wrote, ‘If any great number of men lived such lives, the world’s needed revolutions would be automatically accomplished.’

Cover of 'An African American in South Africa'

An African American in South Africa
The Travel Notes of Ralph J. Bunche 28 September 1937–1 January 1938
By Ralph Bunche
· Edited by Robert R. Edgar

Ralph Bunche, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, traveled to South Africa for three months in 1937. His notes, which have been skillfully compiled and annotated by historian Robert R. Edgar, provide unique insights on a segregated society.

Cover of 'Faces in the Revolution'

Faces in the Revolution
The Psychological Effects of Violence on Township Youth in South Africa
By Gill Straker

One of South Africa’s most serious problems is the large number of youths in the black townships who have been exposed to an incredible depth and complexity of trauma. Not only have they lived through severe poverty, the deterioration of family and social structures, and an inferior education system, but they have also been involved in catastrophic levels of violence, both as victims and as perpetrators. What are the effects of the milieu? What future is there for this generation?

Cover of 'Learning from Robben Island'

Learning from Robben Island
Govan Mbeki’s Prison Writings
By Govan Mbeki
· Introduction by Colin Bundy
· Foreword by Harry Gwala

In the late fifties and early sixties, Govan Mbeki was a central figure in the African National Congress and director of the ANC campaigns from underground. Born of a chief and the daughter of a Methodist minister in the Transkei of South Africa in 1910, he worked as a teacher, journalist, and tireless labor organizer in a lifetime of protest against the government policy of apartheid. Over two decades of imprisonment on Robben Island did not consign him to obscurity.

Cover of 'Native Life in South Africa'

Native Life in South Africa
Before and Since the European War and the Boer Rebellion
By Sol T. Plaatje
· Introduction by Brian Willan
· Foreword by Bessie Head

First published in 1916 and one of South Africa’s great political books, Native Life in South Africa was first and foremost a response to the Native’s Land Act of 1913, and was written by one of the most gifted and influential writers and journalists of his generation. Sol T. Plaatje provides an account of the origins of this crucially important piece of legislation and a devastating description of its immediate effects.