The Politics of Official Discourse in Twentieth Century South Africa
The main body of this book comprises a detailed reading of a series of South African commission reports. These documents were the products of inquiries into the central issues of state formation which the ruling orders of the South African state used to term the ‘Native Question’. In a fundamental sense the present work is an attempt to make sense of the continuities in the stories they told about the structure of the state, and the discontinuities in the terms with which they spoke. That task posed problems of historiography, impelling attempts to work out what these particular commissions were about in their particular historical circumstances. Additionally, it precipitated a more general endeavor to understand relations of power and knowledge in modern states.
Neither a conventional work of history nor a work of ‘pure’ theory, this book is an attempt to write about the writing of a state. In the process it strives to understand how this fictitious and magical ‘thing’ we term a ‘state’ is brought into being over and above the myriads of relationships between real human beings organized in the name of the state.