Indexing Transformation: 14th of February 2019

Please join us for our first seminar of the year to be presented by Anjuli Webster, PhD History Candidate at the University of Pretoria, titled

Conquest Invisible:
Reckoning with the past and present of white supremacy and social science in South Africa

Abstract:

Why is there no conversation on restitution and reparations in white social science discourse in South Africa? Or, what work does white social science discourse do that restitution and reparations are unthinkable? These two questions are at the centre of this paper, in which I trace some interconnections between conquest, white supremacy and social science in contemporary South African history. To begin with, I offer definitions and discussions of some of the key terms used in the paper – conquest, white supremacy, and settler colonialism. I then offer a discussion of the advent of the social sciences in South Africa in relation to the global history of racial capitalism, considering the ways in which the professional social sciences in South Africa emerged from and were subsumed within a white supremacist epistemological order, focused and directed through positivist and functionalist paradigms. Following this historical account, I offer commentary on several trends in contemporary white social science discourse in South Africa, focusing on the silencing of conquest, white supremacy, and racism. My hope is that this discussion will be beneficial in understanding some of the conceptual and epistemological tricks and deceits which white scholars have used and continue to use to make themselves invisible as conquerors, and their work invisible as conquest. Finally, I discuss the historical-ethical duty of white settler scholars in contemporary South Africa.

 

Date: Thursday 14th February

Time: 1pm – 2pm (Questions and answers until about 2.30pm)

Venue: Room 401

Address: 4th floor of the Arts and Social Sciences Building, on the corner of Merriman Avenue & Ryneveld Street.

 

Forthcoming Seminar:

Getting Over Apartheid: An Introduction to Azanian Historiography

 

Ndumiso Dladla, lecturer of philosophy at UNISA in Pretoria. His research is mainly in fields of African social, legal and political philosophy as well as the theory of history and philosophy education. He is author of a recent monograph Here is a Table: A philosophical essay on the history of race in South Africa (2018) and a member of the Azanian Philosophical Society.

 

Abstract:

After providing a general introduction to Azanian critical theory and its sources, the paper will turn to the problem of Apartheid in South African history as well as its history and theory (South African history). Taking Biko’s insight that “the greatest mistake the black world ever made was to assume whomever was against apartheid was an ally” as our point of departure the paper will make three general arguments. 1. The emphasis upon Apartheid in South African historical thinking and by extension all the social sciences is a result of Whiteness[1] of academic historiography and the social sciences in general. 2. Apartheid is merely a political administrative and juridical episode in a more fundamental and continuous historical condition of conquest of the indigenous people in the unjust wars of colonisation. 3. The achievement of liberation (epistemic and then political and economic) will in part require the over-coming of apartheid. That is the recognition that the cardinal pillars of historical injustice are the conquest of the indigenous people in the unjust wars of colonisation and the disseizin of their sovereign title to territory. These pillars predate Apartheid by more than two centuries and have outlived it by more than two decades. We will conclude the paper by arguing that the liberation of South African history is the possibility condition for the beginning of any free social theoretical work.

 

[1] To be sure according to our understanding, whiteness is already at once white supremacy. This is since whiteness is a political category historically established through the racial subjugation of other human beings on the basis that their humanity is defective in relation to that of whites. Whites, whiteness and white supremacy are an indivisible whole incompatible with complete human liberation and a racial justice.

 

Date: Thursday 14th of February

Time: 1pm – 2pm (Questions and answers until about 2.30pm)

Venue: Room 401

Address: 4th floor of the Arts and Social Sciences Building, on the corner of Merriman Avenue & Ryneveld Street.