explores the complicated—even contradictory—position of the intellectual who takes a stand against political policies and ideologies. Mark Sanders argues that intellectuals cannot avoid some degree of complicity in what they oppose and that responsibility can only be achieved with their acknowledgment of this complicity. He examines the role of South African intellectuals by looking at the work of a number of key figures—both supporters and opponents of apartheid.
Sanders gives detailed analyses of widely divergent thinkers: Afrikaner nationalist poet N. P. van Wyk Louw, Drum writer Bloke Modisane, Xhosa novelist A. C. Jordan, Afrikaner dissident Breyten Breytenbach, and Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko. Drawing on theorists including Derrida, Sartre, and Fanon, and paying particular attention to the linguistic intricacy of the literary and political texts considered, Sanders shows how complicity emerges as a predicament for intellectuals across the ideological and social spectrum. Through discussions of the colonial intellectuals Olive Schreiner and Sol T. Plaatje and of post-apartheid feminist critiques of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Complicities reveals how sexual difference joins with race to further complicate issues of collusion.
Complicities sheds new light on the history and literature of twentieth-century South Africa as it weighs into debates about the role of the intellectual in public life.