Black Consciousness in South Africa

The Dialectics of Ideological Resistance to White Supremacy

By Robert Fatton Jr.

Subjects: African Studies
Series: SUNY series in African Politics and Society
Paperback : 9780887061295, 189 pages, January 1986
Hardcover : 9780887061271, 189 pages, January 1986

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Table of contents



Chapter I Black Consciousness from a Historical Perspective

Chapter II Ideology, The Black Consciousness Movement, and Social Change in South Africa

Chapter III The Growth and Definition of the Black Consciousness Movement

Chapter IV Class, Blackness, and Economics

Chapter V Black Theology

Chapter VI Conclusions and Assessments





Black Consciousness in South Africa provides a new perspective on black politics in South Africa. It demonstrates and assesses critically the radical character and aspirations of African resistance to white minority rule.

Robert Fatton analyzes the development and radicalization of South Africa's Black Consciousness Movement from its inception in the late 1960s to its banning in 1977. He rejects the widely accepted interpretation of the Black Consciousness Movement as an exclusively cultural and racial expression of African resistance to racism. Instead Fatton argues that over the course of its existence, the Movement developed a revolutionary ideology capable of challenging the cultural and political hegemony of apartheid. The Black Consciousness Movement came to be a synthesis of class awareness and black cultural assertiveness. It represented the ethico-political weapon of an oppressed class struggling to reaffirm its humanity through active participation in the demise of a racist and capitalist system.

Robert Fatton, Jr., is Assistant Professor, Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, at the University of Virginia.


"A fine analysis of the theoretical underpinnings of the ideologies of African nationalist movements in South Africa. It adds an important dimension to our understanding of the thought processes involved in and basic to these movements." — Gwendolen M. Carter, University of Florida, Gainesville