By Xavier Livermon

About Xavier Livermon

Xavier Livermon is Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is author of Performing Freedom: Kwaito and the Politics of Sound in Post-­Apartheid South Africa (forthcoming).

Apartheid

The word “apartheid,” translated literally from Afrikaans as “apartness,” has often existed in a dynamic tension between its ability to describe a particular sociohistorical experience in South Africa and its usefulness as an organizing concept that describes the convergence of settler colonialism and global capital. As a method of inquiry, black studies has been at the forefront of rethinking the notion of apartheid as exceptional, drawing parallels between the formation of racial capitalism in South Africa and elsewhere throughout the African diaspora (Bunche 1992; Vinson 2012; P. Andrews 2014).

Apartheid did not emerge suddenly with the election of the National Party government in South Africa in 1948. Instead, it was a culmination of a number of policies of colonial capitalism that emerged from the very founding of South Africa as a Dutch colonial outpost in 1652. Forms of residential segregation, land expropriation, and labor manipulation were a prominent feature of …

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