9th Feb 2017 6:30pm
G7, Pavilion Parade
Professor David Johnson, Open University.
Critiques of cultural imperialism focus upon the imposition of hegemonic Western culture on colonised peoples. Such critiques assume and indeed demonstrate that cultural imperialism legitimises and reinforces the material plunder and political domination of the colonised. There is a substantial tradition of radical critique exposing this form of cultural imperialism. But a less common question, and the one posed here, is: what has been the impact of the radical elements of Western culture upon colonised peoples? The question is addressed in relation to the history of Marxism in South Africa, and focuses upon three exemplary moments and their attenuated afterlives: (1) the reception of the Comintern’s 1928 Native Republic thesis during and after Stalin’s rule; (2) the immediate and long-term influence of Trotsky’s 1930s commentaries on South Africa; and (3) the continuing impact of the Western Marxism of Europe’s New Left in the late 1960s.
David Johnson is the author of, Shakespeare and South Africa (OUP) 1996) and Imagining the Cape Colony. History, Literature and the South African Nation (EUP/ UCT Press, 2012). He was the principal author with Steve Pete and Max du Plessis of Jurisprudence: A South African Perspective (Butterworths, 2001) and was the co-editor with Prem Poddar of A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures in English (Edinburgh/ Columbia University Press, 2005) and with Caroline Davis of The Book in Africa: Critical Debates (Palgrave, 2015). He was series editor with Ania Loomba of the Edinburgh University Press series Postcolonial Literary Studies, and is series editor of the ongoing Edinburgh University Press series Key Texts in Anti-colonial Thought.