Join the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs
for the book launch of Premesh Lalu’s Undoing Apartheid.
Undoing Apartheid, a conversation with the author Premesh Lalu (University of the Western Cape), Su-Ming Khoon (University of Galway), Heidi Grunebaum (University of the Western Cape), Garth Stevens (University of the Witwatersrand).
Post-apartheid South Africa still struggles to overcome the past, not just because the material conditions of apartheid linger but because the intellectual conditions it created have not been thoroughly dismantled. The system of ‘petty apartheid’, which controlled the minutia of everyday life, became a means of dragooning human beings into adapting to increasingly mechanized forms of life that stifle desire and creative endeavor. As a result, apartheid is incessantly repeated in the struggle to move beyond it. In Undoing Apartheid, Premesh Lalu argues that only an aesthetic education can lead to a future beyond apartheid. To find ways to escape the vicious cycle, he traces the patterns created by three theatrical works by William Kentridge, Jane Taylor, and the Handspring Puppet Company – Faustus in Africa, Woyzeck on the Highveld, and Ubu and the Truth Commission – which coincided with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid. Through the analysis of these works, Lalu uncovers the roots of modern thinking about race and affirms the need to revitalize a post-apartheid reconciliation endowed with truth – if only to keep alive the rhyme of hope and history.
Critical South, a book series of the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs published by Polity, aims to galvanize cross-regional conversations and expand the spatial-temporal, linguistic sense of contemporary critical theory. The series publishes texts from important traditions in critical thought emerging from the southern hemisphere that have generally not entered into discussions of critical theory in English, translating works that redefine the global scope and foci of critical thought for the present.
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Presented by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of California, Berkeley. Co-sponsored by the CHR, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
Brilliant and necessary. In this luminous book, Premesh Lalu uncovers the brutal legacies of apartheid’s assault on sensual and perceptual life. Only an aesthetic education, he argues, can open up the true hope of post-apartheid future. Written with astute theoretical attentiveness, and with poetry at its heart, Undoing Apartheid is an inspiring blueprint for the aesthetic education it urges. In an era when attacks on the arts and humanities across the world are blatant, Lalu suggests where criticism and creativity might begin again: in Athlone, Cape Town, and in all the other communities across the world where partition and violence have wreaked their worst.
– Lyndsey Stonebridge, author of Placeless People: Writing, Rights, and Refugees.