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Commemorating and Forgetting Cover

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Commemorating and Forgetting

Challenges for the New South Africa

Martin J. Murray


When the past is painful, as riddled with violence and injustice as it is in postapartheid South Africa, remembrance presents a problem at once practical and ethical: how much of the past to preserve and recollect and how much to erase and forget if the new nation is to ever unify and move forward? The new South Africa’s confrontation of this dilemma is Martin J. Murray’s subject in Commemorating and Forgetting. More broadly, this book explores how collective memory works—how framing events, persons, and places worthy of recognition and honor entails a selective appropriation of the past, not a mastery of history.


How is the historical past made to appear in the present? In addressing these questions, Murray reveals how collective memory is stored and disseminated in architecture, statuary, monuments and memorials, literature, and art—“landscapes of remembrance” that selectively recall and even fabricate history in the service of nation-building. He examines such vehicles of memory in postapartheid South Africa and parses the stories they tell—stories by turn sanitized, distorted, embellished, and compressed. In this analysis, Commemorating and Forgetting marks a critical move toward recognizing how the legacies and impositions of white minority rule, far from being truly past, remain embedded in, intertwined with, and imprinted on the new nation’s here and now.


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Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East

Vol. 20 (2000) through current issue

Moving beyond the paradigmatic divides of area studies, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East explores the shared concerns and histories of these regions, offers stimulating perspectives on interdisciplinary debates, and challenges established analytic models. CSSAAME publishes articles from around the world, providing a distinctive link between scholars living and working in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia and their counterparts in Europe and the Americas.

The Concept of Human Rights in Africa Cover

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The Concept of Human Rights in Africa

Hitherto the human rights debate in Africa has concentrated on the legal and philosophical. The author, Professor of Law at the University of Dar es Salaam, here moves the debate to the social and political planes. He attempts to reconceptualise human rights ideology from the standpoint of the working people in Africa. He defines the approach as avoiding the pitfalls of the liberal perspective as being absolutist in viewing human rights as a central question and the rights struggle as the backbone of democratic struggles. The author maintains that such a study cannot be politically neutral or intellectually uncommitted. Both the critique of dominant discourse and the reconceptualisation are located within the current social science and jurisprudential debates.

Congo in België Cover

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Congo in België

Koloniale cultuur in de metropool

Vincent Viaene, David Van Reybrouck, Bambi Ceuppens (eds)

België schiep Congo, maar schiep Congo ook België? In hoeverre werd het 20ste-eeuwse België voor een stuk gevormd door zijn kolonie? Die vraag stelde de toonaangevende Congolese historicus Isidore Ndaywel enige jaren geleden. Deze interdisciplinaire bundel biedt een antwoord. Hij belicht de invloed van de kolonie op de Belgische cultuur en samenleving, van hoog tot laag. Want kolonialisme is geen eenrichtingsverkeer. In Tervuren, bij nationale optochten en in klaslokalen zie je hoe Congo België mee inkleurde. Maar ook in de politiek, de media en de kunsten. Het gaat evengoed om de nesteling van Congo in de massacultuur van missieverhalen en speelfims, in de samenstelling van Belgische gezinnen of in de herinneringen van gewone mensen aan de voormalige kolonie. Het boek vormt zo een kaleidoscoop van het verschil dat Congo – en de Congolezen – maakten in de Belgische geschiedenis.

The Conscript Cover

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The Conscript

A Novel of Libya's Anticolonial War

Gebreyesus Hailu

Contemporary African Fashion Cover

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Contemporary African Fashion

Edited by Suzanne Gott and Kristyne Loughran. Foreword by Joanne B. Eicher

African fashion is as diverse and dynamic as the continent and the people who live there. While experts have long recognized the importance of clothing as a marker of ethnic identity, life stages, political affiliation, and social class, they have only just begun to discover African fashion. Contemporary African Fashion puts Africa at the intersection of world cultures and globalized identities, displaying the powerful creative force and impact of newly emerging styles. Richly illustrated with color photographs, this book showcases haute couture for the African continent. The visual impact of fashion created and worn today in Africa comes to life here, beautifully and brilliantly.

The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here Cover

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The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here

Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana

Boatema Boateng

In Ghana, adinkra and kente textiles derive their significance from their association with both Asante and Ghanaian cultural nationalism. Adinkra, made by stenciling patterns with black dye, and kente, a type of strip weaving, each convey, through color, style, and adornment, the bearer’s identity, social status, and even emotional state. Yet both textiles have been widely mass-produced outside Ghana, particularly in East Asia, without any compensation to the originators of the designs.

In The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here, Boatema Boateng focuses on the appropriation and protection of adinkra and kente cloth in order to examine the broader implications of the use of intellectual property law to preserve folklore and other traditional forms of knowledge. Boateng investigates the compatibility of indigenous practices of authorship and ownership with those established under intellectual property law, considering the ways in which both are responses to the changing social and historical conditions of decolonization and globalization. Comparing textiles to the more secure copyright protection that Ghanaian musicians enjoy under Ghanaian copyright law, she demonstrates that different forms of social, cultural, and legal capital are treated differently under intellectual property law.

Boateng then moves beyond Africa, expanding her analysis to the influence of cultural nationalism among the diaspora, particularly in the United States, on the appropriation of Ghanaian and other African cultures for global markets. Boateng’s rich ethnography brings to the surface difficult challenges to the international regulation of both contemporary and traditional concepts of intellectual property, and questions whether it can even be done.

Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560–1660 Cover

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Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560–1660

Avner Ben-Zaken

Avner Ben-Zaken reconsiders the fundamental question of how early modern scientific thought traveled between Western and Eastern cultures in the age of the so-called Scientific Revolution. Through five meticulously researched case studies—in which he explores how a single obscure object or text moved in the Eastern world—Ben-Zaken reveals the intricate ways that scientific knowledge moved across cultures. His diligent exploration traces the eastward flow of post-Copernican cosmologies and scientific discoveries, showing how these ideas were disseminated, modified, and applied to local cultures. Never before has a student of scientific traffic in the Mediterranean taken such pains to see precisely which instruments, books, and ideas first appeared where, in whose hands, by what means, and with what implications. In doing so, Ben-Zaken challenges accepted views of Western primacy in this fruitful exchange. He shows not only how Islamic cultures benefited from European scientific knowledge but also how Eastern understanding of classical Greek texts informed developments in the West. Ben-Zaken’s mastery of different cultures and languages uniquely positions him to tell this intriguing story. His findings reshape our understanding of scientific discourse in this critical period and contribute to the growing field of cross-cultural Christian-Muslim studies.

Cry my Beloved Africa Cover

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Cry my Beloved Africa

Essays on the Postcolonial Aura in Africa

Cry My Beloved Africa is a compendium of essays having as locus the continent of Africa. It comprises insightful observations on the politics, governmental systems, political economy, cultural practices, educational systems and natural phenomena that impact on the lives of Africans. True to the tradition of French novelist Stendhal, the author intends this work to serve as a mirror that reflects the day-to-day living of the different peoples that inhabit the fifty-three nation-states in Africa. It is directed to contemporary Africa and to the relationship between Africa and the rest of the globe. The didactic value of the book resides in its suitability to the young and the old. The language is clear and free of sophistry.

Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development Cover

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Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development

Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965 - 2007

Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman

Cahora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi River, built in the early 1970s during the final years of Portuguese rule, was the last major infrastructure project constructed in Africa during the turbulent era of decolonization. Engineers and hydrologists praised the dam for its technical complexity and the skills required to construct what was then the world’s fifth-largest mega-dam. Portuguese colonial officials cited benefits they expected from the dam — from expansion of irrigated farming and European settlement, to improved transportation throughout the Zambezi River Valley, to reduced flooding in this area of unpredictable rainfall. “The project, however, actually resulted in cascading layers of human displacement, violence, and environmental destruction. Its electricity benefited few Mozambicans, even after the former guerrillas of FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) came to power; instead, it fed industrialization in apartheid South Africa.” (Richard Roberts)

This in-depth study of the region examines the dominant developmentalist narrative that has surrounded the dam, chronicles the continual violence that has accompanied its existence, and gives voice to previously unheard narratives of forced labor, displacement, and historical and contemporary life in the dam’s shadow.

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