1st Edition

Repression and Resistance Insider Accounts of Apartheid

Edited By Robin Cohen, Yvonne G. Muthien, Abebe Zegeye Copyright 1990

    Originally published in 1990, this book provides a unique view of South Africa and when it was published, it represented a coming of age of a new and vigorous strand of scholarship. The contributors are black social scientists, doctors or trade unionists, some working inside black universities which subsequently turned against the apartheid planners who created them. This book reflects the conviction that the black people of South Africa are not only passive victims of white repression, but actors with the capacity for both overt and covert resistance. Whether writing about the health service, shopfloor struggles, or the evasion of pass controls, the contributors combine scholarly analysis with an insider’s knowledge of the difference between apartheid theory and the social reality of South Africa during the 1990s.

    Introduction Robin Cohen, Yvonne Muthien and Abebe Zegeye. 1. The Native Affairs Department and the Reserves in the 1940s and 1950s Ivan Evans 2. Protest and Resistance in Cape Town, 1939-65 3. The Pestilence of Health Care: Black Death and Suffering Under White Rule H. M. Coovadia & C. C. Jinabhai 4. Prelude to 1976: The Implementation and Response to Bantu Education, 195-76 Nozipho J. Diseko 5. Class Conflict, Mine Hostels and the Reproduction of a Labour Force in the 1980s Wilmot G. James 6. Class, National Oppression and the African Petty Bourgeoisie: The Case of the African Traders Bonginkosi Nzimande 7. The Labour Movement and Struggles for Workplace Democracy Henry Chipeya 8. The Power of Consciousness: Black Politics 1967-77 Yunus Mohamed 9. Women, Wage Labour and National Liberation Lindiwe Guma. 


    Robin Cohen is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the University of Oxford. For the first decade of his academic career, he worked on comparative labour issues. His books included Labour and Politics in Nigeria (1974) and the co-edited collections The development of an African working class (1975), International Labour and the Third World (1987), African Labor History (1978) and the current title, Peasants and Proletarians. He subsequently wrote on the themes of migration, globalization and diasporas. His best-known work is Global diasporas: An introduction (3rd edition, 2022).

    Yvonne Muthien holds a D.Phil (Oxon) and has had a varied career in academia, and public and corporate sector executive management. She held various academic positions, including associate professor, as well as research executive director, and has published several academic articles and books. Dr Muthien also served as a senior executive in various companies in the telecommunications, FMCG, and financial services sectors. She currently serves as Chairperson and Non-Executive Director of a number of companies and the South African central bank.

    Abebe Zegeye holds the degree of DPhil from University of Oxford, UK and a BA in Economics, Philosophy and Sociology from Haverford College USA. He has previously taught at Yale University, The University of California Santa Barbara, University of Warwick and University of South Africa. Since 2014 he has been based in Ethiopia, working as Vice President of Wollo University, Global Engagement and Institutional Transformation, Woldia University and Director Higher Education, Ministry of Education. Abebe Zegeye has done extensive research on African and Social Identities and at present Director of Centre for Research and Development In Learning ( CRADLE) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    Reviews of the original edition of Repression and Resistance:

    ‘The blend of statistical information, background history and social analysis makes for a critical, revealing survey of how apartheid works – and what happens when it fails ... Recommended for any college-level reader on South African affairs’. Bookwatch, the innovative US television programme, broadcast on 10 Dec. 1991 and syndicated via the National Federation of Local Cable Programmers

    ‘All the various contributions in Repression and Resistance serve to illustrate how diverse popular struggles — by women, pupils, unions, migrants, and even African traders - have contributed to the emergence of the tripartite alliance between the African National Congress (A.N.C.), the South African Communist Party, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions’. – Roger Southall Journal of Modern African Studies, 30 (3) 2008.

    Despite strongly disagreeing with the ‘editorial pronouncement’ that those who had experienced the sharp end of apartheid are likely to have a greater insight into its workings, the reviewer writes that ‘this collection is well worth acquiring by anyone interested in the New as well as the Old South Africa’. – A. W. Stadler Canadian Journal of African Studies, 27 (1) 1993.