When was South African history ever postcolonial?

11 Oct 2011

In this article I argue that what enabled affiliation to the larger political project against apartheid was precisely the production of a subject that was always, and necessarily, threaded through a structure of racial capitalism. This hinders the emergence of a history of colonialism and nationalism that theorises and historicises the relations of knowledge and power.In what I am calling a postcolonial critique of apartheid, I make explicit the way the question of knowledge and power was often exchanged for historicist constructions of historical change, especially in relation to the transition from the apartheid to the postapartheid. Tangential to my argument is a reminder of the way the native question in the first half of the twentieth-century produced a disciplinary upheaval in South African knowledge projects by combining the impulses drawn from colonial discourse and nationalist anti-colonial narration. Herein we might encounter the problem of South African radical historiography, and its concomitant constructions of the postapartheid.