Tuesday, June 19, 2012

HSRC Press books on Africa launched at Cape Town Book Fair

Jumbo Editorial Team 

A couple of books published by HSRC Press titled ‘Crisis! What Crisis?’ and ‘Capital Cities in Africa’ were launched during the recently concluded 6th Cape Town Book Fair 2012 in the beautiful South African city. 

‘Crisis! What Crisis?’ is edited by Sarah Chiumbu and Muchaparara Musemwa while ‘Capital Cities in Africa’ has been compiled by Simon Bekker and Göran Therborn. 

The launch comprised a panel discussion that addressed the essential issue of how one deals with scholarship of the continent: how to think and write about Africa. 

This central question was succinctly captured by HSRC Press’ Jeremy Wightman when he asked, “What modes of description and analytical frameworks are there to discuss the rapidly changing and uneven process of modernity?” 

The search for right language in which to communicate and talk about an emerging Africa in the post-colonial context was at the core of the discussion as it was deliberated to use the various languages to engage with the complexity of the continent in new ways. 

Wightman concluded his introduction, describing the two books as contributing to an “incisive collection of contemporary scholarship on the complexities of African cities post independence”, and welcomed the speakers for the evening, Brian Raftopoulos, contributor to Crisis! What Crisis?, and Simon Bekker, co-editor of Capital Cities in Africa and Professor of Sociology at Stellenbosch University.

The discussion between Raftopoulos and Bekker was chaired by Crain Soudien, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, who opened the debate by recognising that both collections “mark a shift from macro analysis to a micro, “bottom-up”, focus exploring forms of power emerging in daily interactions.” 

According to Soudien, both books engage with issues around cities, modernity and governance, exploring how one can identify the traces of our colonial past and examining how ordinary citizens are negotiating and navigating the circumstances of uneven modernity in which housing, formal employment and other benefits are not realisable by the majority of people. 

‘Capital Cities in Africa ‘is a collection of academic essays on the scholarship of Africa, an African publication by mostly African contributors while ‘Crisis! What Crisis?’ explores the multiple dimensions of the Zimbabwean issues.

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