Decoloniality of a special type: solidarity and its potential meanings in South African literature, during and after the Cold War

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Volume 50, p.466–477 (2014)



This article addresses questions of solidarity in South African literature before and after the confluent endings of apartheid and the Cold War. Examining works by J. M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer and Alex La Guma, it highlights how solidarity as a theme has emerged in different forms and narrative settings, often tied to related considerations of utopia and dystopia. Alex La Guma’s travel memoir, A Soviet Journey (1978), is foregrounded in particular as a literary work examining this theme as well as symbolizing it through the Soviet Union’s support for the anti-apartheid struggle. The article concludes with a consideration of decolonial thought in Latin American studies as a contemporary set of conversations providing a potential intercontinental solidarity of the future.

African Futures

As major transformations unfold, our understanding of Africa, its past, its future and its relation to the world seems to be caught between two contending paradigms. The first is shaped by the discourse of crisis and disaster, emergency and survival. The second is future-oriented. It is preoccupied with Africa’s shifting position within the global economy and its apparent rise, the material and virtual flows and the infrastructures that connect Africa to its diasporas and the broader world, and to the social and aesthetic experiences of its inhabitants. This project will take stock of the contending discourses on African futures. It aims at drawing together in robust conversation a broad range of parallel debates currently going on in areas as diverse as literature, science-fiction, music and digital technologies, economics, futures markets, demography and public health, environmental studies, arts, design and fashion. It will also tease out the theoretical and practical implications of these discourses and the extent to which Afro-futurism could be read against similar trends elsewhere, in China, India, Russia and Brazil in particular.

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