The Art of Life in South Africa.

Author:Larson, Zeb
Position:'Sociology in South Africa: Colonial, Apartheid, and Democratic Forms' 'Transforming Science in South Africa: Development, Collaboration, and Productivity' - Book review
 
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Magaziner, Daniel. The Art of Life in South Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2016.

Sooryamoorthy, R. Sociology in South Africa: Colonial, Apartheid, and Democratic Forms. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Sooryamoorthy, R. Transforming Science in South Africa: Development, Collaboration, and Productivity. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

It is rare to have an opportunity to directly compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative works and approaches, yet these three books offer precisely that chance. Daniel Magaziner's THE ART OF LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA focuses on one case study, the Ndaleni Art School. By doing so, Magaziner is able to tell a larger story about how black South Africans engaged with the apartheid system beyond outright resistance or collaboration. R. Sooryamoorthy's two books, TRANSFORMING SCIENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA and SOCIOLOGY IN SOUTH AFRICA are a quantitative, data-driven "state of the field" in the hard sciences and in sociology, respectively. These three books shed important light on South Africa, even when the reader must occasionally read between the lines.

Magaziner's THE ART OF LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA uses the Ndaleni Art School to examine how black South African artists and teachers engaged with the apartheid government. For the government, arts education was a way of fostering specifically "African" or "primitivist" traits or characteristics, so it fostered arts education as a way of reinforcing cultural apartheid. The Ndaleni Art School was supposed to prepare art teachers who would train their students in that perspective. For many of the would-be teachers, however, the school was an opportunity to practice Art (as they often capitalized it) and all of the things that came with it in a society that gave them few other opportunities to do so. Magaziner traces the careers of the school's students and teachers down to the present day, relying on an extensive base of oral histories and the artwork these teachers left behind.

Magaziner's book succeeds in no small part because of his consideration of what engagement with this system meant. For teachers and students alike, working in the education system also meant being a functionary in the apartheid system. Some teachers left the country rather than work inside such a system, but for those who remained, this meant a kind of accommodation with apartheid. Students who graduated had no guarantee of finding work in the chronically underfunded Bantu Education schools...

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