This British Academy partnership programme aims to examine the institutions and processes behind textual production and the role of print culture in constituting national identities in South Africa in the 20th century. Partners will examine the history of South Africa’s national publishers and also the publishing networks that were established between the UK and South Africa, focusing on the relationship of these publishers with the South African state and their impact on the formation of reading publics. Original research will be carried out into publishers’ archives and state archives in the UK and South Africa. The main objectives are:
- To assess the role of the publisher in South African literature and culture, focusing on the continuities and discontinuities during the 20th century and addressing how control over the production and circulation of printed books shaped literary and cultural development.
- To explore the interventions of the publisher in the constitution of national identities, in particular during the apartheid period.
- To carry out new research into the formation of reading publics and the impact of reading cultures during South Africa’s history, in particular during the anti-apartheid struggle.
- To examine the British booktrade to South Africa at pivotal periods in its history, namely: during the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), in the aftermath of the South African union (1910) and during the apartheid period (1948-94). The literary, political, ideological and economic dimensions of this trade will be addressed.
- To gather and disseminate information relating to book history and print culture studies in Southern Africa through the Resources section of this website.