Emeriti Professors Co-edit Book on Social Cohesion in South Africa
Professors Emeriti Christopher Ballantine, Michael Chapman and Gerhard Maré from the College of Humanities together with UKZN alumnus Dr Kira Erwin recently co-edited a collection of essays titled: “Living together, Living Apart? Social cohesion in a Future of South Africa”.
The book, published by UKZN Press, brings together chapters written by leading academics and public figures in South Africa today, namely: Christopher Ballantine, Ahmed Bawa, Michael Chapman, Jacob Dlamini, Jackie Dugard, Kira Erwin, Nicole Fritz, Michael Gardiner, Gerhard Maré, Monique Marks, Rajend Mesthrie, Bonita Meyersfeld, Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Njabulo S. Ndebele, Kathryn Pillay, Faye Reagon, Brenda Schmahmann, Himla Soodyall, David Spurrett and Thuto Thipe.
The editors point out that ‘the book’s interventions are spurred by what in South Africa today is a buzz-phrase: social cohesion. Leaders or spokespeople in politics, business, labour, education, sport, entertainment and the media bandy about the term, or concept, with little reflection, the editors argue.
‘Yet,’ they ask, ‘who would not wish to live in a socially cohesive society? How, then, do we apply the ideal in the daily round when diversity of language, religion, culture, race and the economy too often supersedes our commitment to a common citizenry? How do we live together rather than live apart? Such questions provoke the purpose of these interventions.’
The edited collection of essays, which are short, incisive and at times provocative, tackle issues that are pertinent to both living together and living apart. Issues that are tackled include equality/inequality, public pronouncement, xenophobia, safety, chieftaincy in modernity, gender-based abuse, healing, the law, education, identity, sport, new ‘national’ projects, the role of the arts and South Africa in the world.
In focusing on such issues, the essays point towards the making of a future in which a critical citizenry is key to a healthy society. The contributors have all published prominently in areas of the humanities and social sciences in South Africa.
Words by: Nomcebo Mncube Mncuben@ukzn.ac.za
Photograph: Adele Branch