The Very Serious Function of Racism

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

Toni Morrison (1975)

Why Are There No Apartheid Studies?

Why are there no Apartheid Studies? Why are we not studying apartheid systematically and formally? Why has there not been a single theoretical framework to emerge out of the paradigm of apartheid? Why is there no degree programme, or even an apology of a course or module, even at first year level only, called Apartheid Studies? Why is there no single Centre for Apartheid Studies or Institute of Apartheid Studies or Research Chair in Apartheid Studies at any of our 25 South African universities? Why should there be Holocaust Studies, Development Studies, Genocide Studies, Communication Studies, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Queer Studies, even Dolls Studies, and so on, but no Apartheid Studies? Why has there been little interest in formally provisioning for the study of apartheid? What really is apartheid? How do we recognise it when we see it? In this project I question the universal absence of Apartheid Studies, and propose the founding of a forensic discipline that rigorously studies the metamorphoses and afterlives of apartheid. I attempt a redefinition of apartheid, and argue that Nelson Mandela’s cry of “Never, never again” is pointless if we have no tools and means with which to definitively recognise apartheid when we see it.