The Legacy of the Cultural Boycott in South Africa

Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production Thu 18 Sep 2014 4.30PM-9.00PM The New School, Alvin Johnson/
J.M. Kaplan Building
66 West 12th Street, see rooms below
New York City

Free admission; space is limited and registration required at Participants are strongly encouraged to make use of the event Resource Guide (see below).
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4:30–6:00 pm Room 510: Screening of Under African Skies (2012), directed by Joe Berlinger
6:30–7:30 pm Wollman Hall, 5th floor: Presentations by participants
8:00–9:00 pm Wollman Hall, 5th floor: Discussion with participants and audience

Cultural production opens avenues for new ways of thinking. How productive or conducive can the methods of withdrawal and boycott be for politically oriented artistic practices? This series of seminars poses an alternative view: to consider withdrawal and boycott as special conditions for discourse and engaged artmaking. The goal of the seminars is to study boycotts as cultural work, and understand their motivations (why a boycott), practices (how a boycott), and consequences (what effects). The seminars, which will culminate in a public colloquium in spring 2015, address timely questions of the agency of artists in social and political spheres, and how culture can enact and perform change within a politics of disengagement.

Examples abound of contemporary artists holding institutions, exhibitions, and projects accountable for their practices. Labor issues in the United Arab Emirates, funding structures of the Sydney Biennale or the current São Paulo Bienal, participation in this year's Manifesta in Saint Petersburg, and calls to renew a cultural boycott of Israel—artists are leveraging their power to affect shifts in the ways culture is produced on individual, civic, and educational levels.

The Legacy of the Cultural Boycott in South Africa
This year marks the 20th anniversary of South African democracy. It's also an opportune moment to revisit not only the state of political freedoms after Apartheid, but the strategies that led to that system's dismantling. This seminar revisits the boycott and divestment campaigns to isolate South Africa's racist regime, focusing especially on cultural politics.

Sean Jacobs is on the Faculty of The New School's Milano School where he teaches courses in International Affairs. He is a native of Cape Town, South Africa. He previously taught at the University of Michigan in African and African American Studies and held a Post-doctoral fellowship at New York University. He is working on a book about post-apartheid media culture. He founded the website Africa is a Country.

Daniel Magaziner is a historian of 20th-century Africa. Specializing in intellectual history, his first book was about interplay between religion, movement politics, and popular culture in 1970s South Africa. He is currently working on two book projects: one is an intellectual history of art education under apartheid; the other, a history of architecture and urban planning in post-colonial Africa. Dan has held positions at Cornell and Yale, where he is currently assistant professor of history.

Hlonipha A. Mokoena received her Ph.D. from the University of Cape Town in 2005. She is currently an associate professor of Anthropology at Columbia University in the City of New York. She recently published a book, titled Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual, which isabout Magema Magwaza Fuze, the first Zulu-speaker to publish a book in the language.

The seminar is open to the public. Reservations are accepted on a first come, first served basis at All participants are encouraged to avail themselves of the Resource Guides, introductory readings to each seminar, announced on the seminar event pages at
    • Legacy of the Cultural Boycott in South Africa Pt. 1
    • Legacy of the Cultural Boycott in South Africa Pt. 2
      • K South Africa Resource Guide Download - pdf (94 kB)
The Legacy of the Cultural Boycott of South Africa is seminar IV of the series Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency and Cultural Production. Other seminars in this series are

The Legacy of the Cultural Boycott in South Africa
Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Cultural Production During BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel)
Monday, October 20th, 2014

Going the Distance: Cultural Work in Far-flung Political and Geographical Spheres
Monday, December 1, 2014

Considering Palestine/Israel. What Does the Boycott Mean?
Saturday, February 7, 2015

Who is Silencing Whom? Censorship, Self-Censorship, and Charlie Hebdo
Monday, February 23, 2015

Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production
Saturday, April 11, 2015

The program is organized by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics as part of the center's 2013–2015 curatorial focus on Alignment. It is curated by Carin Kuoni, director/curator, Vera List Center, and Laura Raicovich, President and Executive Director, Queens Museum.