South African Anthropology in Conversation
186 Pages
English
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South African Anthropology in Conversation

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Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more
186 Pages
English

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In the 1980s, the University of Cape Town�s social anthropology department was predominantly oriented by an �expos� style of critical scholarship. The enemy was the apartheid state, the ethical imperative was clear and a combative metaphor for doing research motivated the department. Andrew David Spiegel, known affectionately as �Mugsy� by his students and colleagues, has been a central, if understated, figure of this history and helped to frame the theoretical charge of a generation of students looking to counter apartheid from �inside�. In a series of interviews between the senior professor and one of his students � Jessica Dickson � Spiegel offers a unique perspective from the centre of anthropology�s recent history in South Africa.

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Published 06 October 2014
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EAN13 9789956792887
Language English
Document size 2 MB

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SOUTH AFRICAN ANTHROPOLOGY INCONVERSATION An Intergenerational Interview on the History and Future of Social Anthropology in South Africa
Jessica L. Dickson in conversation with ANDREW D. SPIEGEL
South African Anthropology in Conversation An Intergenerational Interview on the History and Future of Social Anthropology in South Africa Jessica L. Dickson in conversation with Andrew D. Spiegel Langaa Research & Publishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher:LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.comwww.langaa-rpcig.net Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookcollective.com
ISBN: 9956-792-39-X
©Jessica L. Dickson 2015DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
About the BookIn the 1980s, the University of Cape Town’s social anthropology department was predominantly oriented by a neo-Marxist approach that focused on an ‘exposé’ style of critical scholarship. The enemy was the apartheid state, the ethical imperative was clear and a combative metaphor for doing research that revealed the effects of state oppression motivated the department. Andrew David Spiegel, known affectionately as ‘Mugsy’ by his students, has been a central, if understated, figure of the discipline in South Africa. In a series of interviews between the senior professor and his student, Mugsy offers a unique perspective from the centre of anthropology’s recent history in South Africa, yet from the insightful peripheries of its more commonly known narrative. His story recounts the experiences of one academic who was there; who helped frame the theoretical charge of a generation of students looking for new ways to counter apartheid from ‘inside’ and, notably, from a position of privilege that apartheid had helped to ensure. However, these intergenerational conversations are as much about the present and the future of South African anthropology as they are about its past. Faced with the persistent uncertainties of institutional transformation and unresolved questions regarding the discipline’s relevance to independent Africans, a new generation searches for new approaches to engage the complexities of neoliberalism and postcolonial subjectivity. And yet, if recent events like Marikana suggest the return of apartheid-era disciplines, then Mugsy’s experience holds considerable value to South African anthropology well beyond its archive.
About Jessica L. Dickson Jessica Dickson is a doctoral student in African Studies at Harvard University. Her interests include South African anthropology, postcolonial subjectivity, visual culture and media, African futurism and science fiction studies, with a current research focus on the South African film industry. These interests, and the conversations recorded in this book, emerged while conducting fieldwork on ‘township tourism’ in Cape Town in 2010. She received a master’s of social science from the University of Cape Town in 2011 and completed her BA in anthropology in her hometown at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2008. She continues to divide her time between friends, family, and research in South Africa, Illinois, and Boston.
Praise for this Book“This frank and gripping first auto-ethnographic and contextual history of anthropology in South Africa focuses on the decades of struggle and transition since 1970. Mugsy Spiegel speaks from his heart with Jessica Dickson about his socially engaged working life in beautiful, reflexive, conversations. These are testimony to the impact of national politics on academia, Spiegel’s pioneering exposé ethnography, his activism through pedagogy and the rifts between theoretical paradigms. The narratives underline the continuing value of political economic analysis based on critical ethnography, in combination with a deep humanism, as embodied in Spiegel’s journey that was central to the shaping of a socially relevant anthropology at UCT and nationally.” Kees van der Waal, Professor of Social Anthropology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. “Following in the imperative anthropological tradition of auto-critique, ‘Mugsy’ Spiegel’s personal recollections provide meat to the skeleton of previous historical accounts of South African anthropology grappling with its reputation as apartheid’s handmaiden. For the younger generation of anthropologists the book provides interesting backstage insights; for those of us who were there, it is an engrossing tour down memory lane.” Dr Emile Boonzaier Boonzaier, co-editor, South African Keywords: The uses and abuses of political concepts (1988) “In 1994 ‘Mugsy’ Spiegel asked fellow anthropologists ‘what do we do now?’ For him it has been more of the same. Tireless writing and research on the problems of South Africa and, what this inspirational volume shows, making them known to the future of world anthropology” Michael Rowlands, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Material Culture, University College London, UK.
Table of Contents Acknowledgements……………………………………….. v Conversation Starters……………………………...……… vii
Introduction to Intergenerational Conversations with a Combative Anthropologist………………………… ix Prefatory Comment………………………………………..xliii
Chapter 1: Finding Politics…………………….………….. 1 Chapter 2: Coming To Anthropology………………..……. 13 Chapter 3: UCT in The΄70s…………….………………… 25 Chapter 4: Volkekunde and Academic Apartheid……….… 49 Chapter 5: Doing Anthropology under Apartheid………… 59 Chapter 6: Tradition and Transition……………...……….. 79
Chapter 7: What’s Left………………………...………….. 95 Chapter 8: Coda…………………………..………………. 119 Bibliography……………………………………...……….. 125
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