This article discusses the alternative reading practices that occurred in the shadow of censorship during the apartheid period in South Africa. Following a brief overview of the censorship apparatus’ institutionalisation process, the focus of this article turns to readers and the alternative reading networks and sites of book distribution of banned or likely to be banned publications that emerged despite censorship. By linking these reading practices to the broader political landscape, this article will examine the role played by readers as agents of social change, drawing parallels between their reading protocols and political activism. Building on the field of book history, albeit modestly, this research reflects on the value of literature as a medium for social change, or in the words of Robert Darnton, investigate ‘the world behind books’ (1982: ix).


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pp. 56-85
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