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    Township histories, insurrection and liberation in late Apartheid South Africa

    Sapire, Hilary (2013) Township histories, insurrection and liberation in late Apartheid South Africa. South African Historical Journal 65 (2), pp. 167-198. ISSN 0258-2473.

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    This article reviews the literature on resistance in South Africa's African townships that emerged in response to the township insurgencies of the 1980s and early 1990s. It focuses on two bodies of writing: the literature that chronicled the revolt as it unfolded on the one hand, and the historical literature that explored township politics and culture during the first half of the twentieth century on the other. It evaluates these writings’ strengths and points to the inevitable gaps and blind spots. It also highlights the disjunctures that existed between the two. The current wave of historical writing on South Africa's liberation struggle as well as the reassertion of township-based resistance and of township history gives this survey a particular salience. This article argues for the need for both a ‘joined-up’ liberation history that gives due place to the township-based rebellions (as opposed to one that is subordinated to that of the exiled ANC in contemporary public history) and one that recognises the deeper roots of, and continuities with, earlier phases of township resistance and rebellion. It also considers this body of writing in the light of subsequent critiques of the resistance paradigm and the social history approach that dominated the study of townships in the 1980s.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): townships, resistance, South Africa, liberation, historiography
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2014 10:12
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:10


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