Print Culture and Publishing in 20th Century South Africa
British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Fund (2014-16)
This research partnership examined the institutions and processes behind textual production and the role of print culture in constituting national identities in South Africa in the 20th century. Its main objectives were:
- 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 creation of an online portal.
Original research was carried out into publishers’ archives and state archives in the UK and South Africa. Partners examined 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.
The project was led by Dr Caroline Davis, Oxford Brookes University (PI) and Professor Archie Dick of the University of Pretoria (Co-I) with Dr Elizabethe le Roux (Pretoria) and Dr Jane Potter (Oxford Brookes). It led to a series of colloquia and research seminars and resulted in a number of joint publications, which stimulated and promoted new scholarship in this field, including a special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies on Print Cultures in Southern Africa, edited by Caroline Davis, Archie Dick and Elizabeth le Roux (June 2018), a collected volume, The Book in Africa: Critical Debates edited by Davis, Caroline and David Johnson (Palgrave, 2015), and a special issue of Critical Arts on ‘South Africa’s Publishing and Reading Culture (2014).