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Thinking Freedom in Africa: Toward a theory of emancipatory politics

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Previous ways of conceiving the universal emancipation of humanity have in practice ended in failure. Marxism, anti-colonial nationalism and neo-liberalism all understand the achievement of universal emancipation through a form of state politics. Marxism, which had encapsulated the idea of freedom for most of the twentieth century, was found wanting when it came to thinking emancipation because social interests and identities were understood as simply reflected in political subjectivity which could only lead to statist authoritarianism. Neo-liberalism and anti-colonial nationalism have also both assumed that freedom is realisable through the state, and have been equally authoritarian in their relations to those they have excluded on the African continent and elsewhere.

ISBN-13: 9781868148660

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Wits University Press

Publication Date: 12-01-2016

Pages: 650

Product Dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

Professor Michael Neocosmos is the Director of Unit of the Humanities, Rhodes University (UHURU) and is an NRF-rated researcher. He is the author of From Foreign Natives to Native Foreigners: Explaining Xenophobia in South Africa (2006).

Table of Contents

Foreword Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgements xxvii

Introduction: Politics is thought, thought is real, people think 1

Part 1 Thinking political sequences: From African history to African historical political sequences

1 Theoretical introduction: Understanding historical political sequences 37

2 From Saint-Domingue to Haiti: The politics of freedom and equality, 1791-1960 69

3 Are those-who-do-not-count capable of reason? On the limits of historical thought 94

4 The National Liberation Struggle mode of politics in Africa, 1945-1975 112

5 The People's Power mode of politics in South Africa, 1984-1986 134

6 From national emancipation to national chauvinism in South Africa, 1973-2013 157

7 Rethinking militancy in the current sequence: Beyond politics as agency 189

8 Understanding fidelity to the South African emancipatory event: The Treatment Action Campaign and Abahlali baseMjondolo 222

Part 2 Opening up the thought of politics in Africa today: Exceeding the limits of sociology: Beyond representation

9 Theoretical introduction: Social representation, modes of rule and political prescriptions 243

10 Marxism and the politics of representation: The 'agrarian question' and the limits of political economy - class, nation and the party-state 263

11 Thinking beyond representation, acting beyond representation: Accounting for worker subjectivities in South Africa 309

12 Renaming the state in Africa today 358

13 Domains of state politics and systemic violence: The concept of 'uncivil society' 400

14 The domain of civil society and its politics 447

15 The domain of traditional society and its politics 473

16 Towards a politics of solidarity: Feminist contributions 521

Conclusion: Reclaiming the domain of freedom 532

Bibliography 552

Index 593