Kwaito: The Revolution Was Not Televised; It Announced Itself in Song

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Assuming {Boycott}: {Resistance}, {Agency} and {Cultural} {Production}, OR Books (2017)




Confronted with overwhelming strength―in the form of threatened or actual physical violence, impenetrable bureaucracy, or even “just” massive social pressure―what can non-violent activists do? One of the most powerful weapons in the organizer’s arsenal is the refusal to participate in an oppressive system, summarized by the memorable phrase uttered by Bartleby, the antihero of Herman Melville’s classic short story: “I would prefer not to.” Since the days of the 19th century Irish land wars, when Irish tenant farmers defied the actions of Captain Charles Boycott and English landlords, “boycott” has been a method that’s shown its effectiveness time and again. In the 20th century, it notably played central roles in the liberation of India and South Africa and the struggle for civil rights in the U.S.: the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott is generally seen as a turning point in the movement against segregation. Assuming Boycott is the essential reader for today’s creative leaders and cultural practitioners, including original contributions by artists, scholars, activists, critics, curators and writers who examine the historical precedent of South Africa; the current cultural boycott of Israel; freedom of speech and self-censorship; and long-distance activism. Far from withdrawal or cynicism, boycott emerges as a productive tool of creative and productive engagement.

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