Launch of The Cambridge Companion to Nelson Mandela

Monday, 5 May, 2014 - 17:00

WiSER and the Nelson Mandela Foundation invite you to a reopening of the Mandela archive, in the form of the launch of a new scholarly work, The Cambridge Companion to Nelson Mandela (Cambridge University Press, 2014), edited and compiled by Rita Barnard.

What Futures With(out) Mandela?

For too long, Mandela has been thought of as a man of action preoccupied with the struggle against apartheid. Isn’t it time to revisit his significance as a political thinker whose unique contribution to modern political theory and to the history of the twentieth century lies in his power to reclaim the future as potentiality and possibility?

What are the new questions we could ask about Mandela today? How do we open his life to analysis in a way that allows us to say something meaningful about the institutions and cultures of democracy and accountability in our own times; the relationship between political freedom and economic freedom which is currently being posed in such a vivid way in South Africa; and of the futures of race in this country?

If for Mandela the future was mostly a space in which radically alternative forms of social life could be envisioned and enabled, what kind of politics should we conduct to counter racial apartheid and its legacies in our neo-liberal age; to foster freedom and to deepen democracy in the face of deep authoritarian under-currents; to reopen the task of imagining South Africa as a universal nation and a place that has meaning beyond its own frontiers?

What do we want to say, now, about Mandela as a historian of human emancipation, and how he wrote himself into this project?  And how do we relate this figure to other twentieth century figures such as Gandhi, Nehru, King and Suu Kyi)?

The event will take place in two parts: In the first, Ferial Haffajee (City Press) and Mbongiseni Buthelezi (Centre for Law and Society, UCT), will speak to the spectre of Mandela, and the project of future freedom, on the eve of the South African elections. In the second part, Verne Harris (Nelson Mandela Foundation) and Rita Barnard (UPenn), will speak about the book and its significance. Achille Mbembe (WiSER) will chair the event.

Monday, 5th May 2014

WISER Seminar Room,
6th Floor, Richard Ward Building,
East Campus, Wits University


Drinks and snacks will be served.