Becoming Worthy Ancestors Cover

Becoming Worthy Ancestors

Archive, Public Deliberation And Identity In South Africa

184 pages

August, 2011

ISBN: 9781868145324



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Xolela Mangcu is now based at the Department of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. He is Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C.

Xolela Mangcu is now based at the Department of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. He is Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C.

Ntongela Masilela is Professor of English and World Literature, Professor of Creative Studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is Director of the H. I. E. Dhlomo Center for African Intellectual History at Pitzer College. He is Adjunct Professor of African American Studies at the University of California in Irvine.

Frederik van Zyl Slabbert was a former South African Opposition Leader, Political Analyst and Businessman. Frederik was Chancellor of Stellenbosch University until 2009 and lectured as Professor in Sociology at several universities until his death in 2010.

Martin Bernal was a British scholar of modern Chinese political history. He was a Professor of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University.

Full of academic thinking and research about a variety of topics important to political to discussion
Why does it matter that nations should care for their archives, and that they should develop a sense of shared identity? And why should these processes take place in the public domain? How can nations possibly speak about a shared sense of identity in pluralistic societies where individuals and groups have multiple identities? And how can such conversations be given relevance in public discussions of reconciliation and development in South Africa? These are the issues that the Public Conversations lecture series - an initiative of the Constitution of Public Intellectual Life Project at Wits University - proceeded from in 2006. Five years later, cross currents in contemporary South Africa have made the resumption of a public debate to clarify the meanings of identity and citizenship even more imperative, and an understanding of 'archive' even more urgent. The 2006 lectures were subsequently collected, resulting in this volume which takes its title from Weber's point, elaborated on in the chapter by Benedict Anderson, that the future asks us to be worthy ancestors to the yet unborn. The book, as did the lecture series, aims to reach a broad and informed reading public because the topic is still of pressing interest in contemporary public discourse. In a changed (and, some might say, degraded) environment of public dialogue, the editor hopes to inspire a re-thinking of the very essence of what it means to be a citizen of South Africa. Becoming Worthy Ancestors aims to make accessible the theoretically informed, sometimes highly academic work of its various contributors. With chapters from high profile international and local contributors, it will be of interest to South African and international audiences. Editing for publication has further enhanced the accessibility of each speaker-s thinking without forfeiting any of its complexity, and the addition of an introductory chapter by the editor contributes to the coherence of the volume. While the target audience is the broad public, the book is based on a core of academic thinking and research.