Revisiting Apartheid Race Categories: A Colloquium

We’re attending this colloquium at Wits next week – as associates of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (we develop digital research resources for them).  Should be interesting and there is a public lecture with Professors Jonathan Jansen and  Steven Friedman on Thursday night – see you there!

The post-1994 South African government requires information on apartheid race classification to implement and monitor racial redress. Some citizens argue this practice is necessary given our history. Others, possibly a minority, argue against it. Resistance to ticking race classification boxes emerges from various quarters with different political motivations. This colloquium begins with the premise that jettisoning apartheid race categories now in favour of either class or ‘merit’ would set back the few gains made toward redress. It brings into conversation scholars from various disciplines, activists and practitioners to explore the implications of common sense uses of ‘race’, of the continued administrative use of apartheid-era race categories, and of class reductionist approaches to redress. Significantly, this gathering begins to explore possibilities for developing and testing new indicators for ‘race’ and class disadvantage, and for eventually replacing apartheid race categories. Its aim is not to drain redress strategies of the life of ‘race’. On the contrary, it explores thought and practice toward encompassing racialised lived realities without surrendering to apartheid’s codes. The aim of this colloquium is neither to advocate an un-situated transcendence of ‘race’, nor to subscribe to thought of its permanence. Instead, it hopes to contribute to socially just redress, and to a future in which lived experience, political identifications and ways of knowing are less orchestrated by apartheid race categories.

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