Media, Identity and the Public Sphere in Post-apartheid South Africa

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Abebe Zegeye, Richard L. Harris, William V. Harris
Brill, 2003 - Architecture - 194 pages
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The essays in this collection reveal that the social and political development of post-apartheid South Africa depends to an important degree on the evolving cultural, social and political identities of its diverse population and on the role of the media of mass communications in the country's new multicultural democracy. The popular struggle against the country's former apartheid regime and the on-going democratisation of South African politics have generated enormous creativity and inspiration as well as many contradictions and unfulfilled expectations. In the present period of social transformation, the legacy of the country's past is both a source of continuing conflict and tension as well as a cause for celebration and hope. Post-apartheid South Africa provides an important case study of social transformation and how the cultural, social and political identities of a diverse population and the structure and practices of the media of mass communications affect the prospects for developing a multicultural democracy. The promise and the challenge of building a multicultural democratic society in a country with a racist and violent authoritarian legacy involves people with different identities and interests learning how to respect their differences and to live together in peace. It involves developing an inclusive or overarching common identity and a commitment to working together for a common destiny based on social equity and justice. South Africa's media of mass communications have an important role to play in the process of unprecedented social transformation - both in developing the respect for differences and the overarching identity as well as providing the public forum and the channels of communication needed for the successful development of the country's multicultural democracy. In South Africa, the democratization of the media must go hand in hand with the democratization of the political system in order to ensure that the majority of the citizenry participate effectively in the country's multicultural democracy. Topics covered include The "Struggle for African Identity: Thabo Mbeki's African Renaissance," "Between the Local and the Global: South African Languages and the Internet," "Shooting the East/Veils and Masks: Uncovering Orientalism in South African Media" and "Black and White in Ink: Discourses of Resistance in South African Cartooning." Contributors are Pal Ahluwalia, Gabeba Baderoon, Richard L. Harris, Sean Jacobs, Elizabeth Le Roux, Andy Mason, Thembisa Mjwacu, Herman Wasserman, and Abebe Zegeye.

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About the author (2003)

Abebe Zegeye was born in Ethiopia, studied in the US and UK, and obtained his Ph.D. at Oxford University. He is currently a Professor of Sociology at the University of South Africa (Unisa) in Pretoria. He has written extensively on society, human rights and social problems in Africa. He is co-editor of Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture and of African Identities. Richard Harris is Professor of Global Studies and the Director of the Integrated Studies Program at California State University, Monterey Bay. He specialized in African Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles where he obtained his Ph.D. in Political Science. He has written extensively on political, economic and social issues in Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as on globalisation, revolutionary change, socialism and democracy. He is a coordinating editor of Latin American Studies and co-editor of the Journal of Developing Studies.