African Nationalism from Apartheid to Post-Apartheid South Africa. a Critical Analysis of ANC Party Political Discourse
by Ellen Wesemuller (9783898214988)

African Nationalism from Apartheid to Post-Apartheid South Africa. a Critical Analysis of ANC Party Political Discourse

Ellen Wesemuller

Release Date: 01 August 2005
Format: Paperback / softback
Pages: 120
Categories: South Africa
Discrimination & Race Relations
Publisher: Ibidem Press
ISBN: 9783898214988
ISBN-10: 3898214982

With the help of discourse analysis and ideology critique, Ellen Wesem?ller establishes a theoretical framework to analyze African nationalism in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. Following the constructivist school of thought, the study adopts the assumption that nations are "imagined communities" which are built on "invented traditions." It shows that historically and analytically, there are two distinct concepts of nationalism: "constitutional" and "ethnic" nationalism. These concepts can be retraced in South Africa where they form the central antagonism of black political thought. The study of post-apartheid African nationalism is placed in its historical perspective by focusing on the major milestones of African National Congress' discourse before and during apartheid. It demonstrates that throughout its history, the ANC was characterized by the rivalry between concepts of "constitutional" and "ethnic" nationalism. While the former concept found its counterpart in Charterism, the latter was adopted by African nationalism. Though the ANC in its majority embraced Charterism, it continually played with the appeal of an exclusive, racial nationalism. The theoretical and historical contextualization of the book allows for the investigation of the various dimensions of current ANC discourse on African nationalism. Wesem?ller analyses different concepts of nationalism employed by the ANC and compares these models to those discussed in academic literature. She concludes that in post-apartheid South Africa, the historical dichotomy of Africanist and Charterist nationalism persists within the ANC. While early concepts of nationalism like Mandela's "rainbow nation" and Mbeki's "I am an African" paid tribute to Charterism, the discourses on the "African Renaissance" and Mbeki's "two-nation" address at least leave openings for Africanist interpretations. Furthermore, the analysis shows that nationalism is not only a product of discourse but also one of material conditions. The study provides evidence that it is not only the ANC that hijacks African nationalism in order to mobilize their electorate and push through unpopular policy choices. Also, there are compelling material reasons for some South Africans to adopt a nationalist agenda. This is demonstrated by the new "black" bourgeoisie that mediates the gap between rich and poor as well as black and white. African nationalism in this regard serves to legitimate domination and existing relations of inequality. It affirms an African elite while neither uplifting the majority of African poor nor threatening the material privileges of white South Africans. Lastly, Ellen Wesem?ller gives an outlook on the political implications of a resurrected nationalism. The effects can be analyzed according to the two promises of nationalism: superiority over "outsiders" and equality between "insiders." Superiority in post-apartheid South Africa is established over other African countries, immigrants and inner South African groups that are considered "foreign."

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