Media, Democratization, and the End(s) of Apartheid

in Starring Mandela and Cosby

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780226451886
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226451909 | DOI:
Media, Democratization, and the End(s) of Apartheid

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This introductory chapter begins by identifying two paradoxes in the popularity of The Cosby Show among both Blacks and Whites in late-apartheid South Africa. Each paradox highlights one of the two central claims of the book. First, television made possible a transformation in the subjectivities and identifications of White South Africans, and this transformation in turn altered the nature of politics in late-apartheid South Africa and continues to reverberate through current efforts toward democratic consolidation. Second, television served as an initial site of negotiation in which the absence of Black South Africans in public life was first dismantled, thus allowing for White South Africans to imagine themselves as part of the same polity with Black South Africans long before the formal inclusion of Black South Africans in institutional political life. The book identifies four “fence posts”—moments in the history of South Africa that highlight shifts in both the televisual and the political landscapes, or what Appadurai has described as the mediascapes and ideoscapes of the time. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords: The Cosby Show; Blacks; Whites; South Africa; race relations; television; apartheid; democratization

Chapter.  6425 words. 

Subjects: African Studies

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