Media in Postapartheid South Africa
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In Media in Postapartheid South Africa, author Sean Jacobs turns to media politics and the consumption of media as a way to understand recent political developments in South Africa and their relations with the African continent and the world. Jacobs looks at how mass media define the physical and human geography of the society and what it means for comprehending changing notions of citizenship in postapartheid South Africa. Jacobs claims that the media have unprecedented control over the distribution of public goods, rights claims, and South Africa's integration into the global political economy in ways that were impossible under the state-controlled media that dominated the apartheid years. Jacobs takes a probing look at television commercials and the representation of South Africans, reality television shows and South African continental expansion, soap operas and postapartheid identity politics, and the internet as a space for reassertions and reconfigurations of identity. As South Africa becomes more integrated into the global economy, Jacobs argues that local media have more weight in shaping how consumers view these products in unexpected and consequential ways.



Publié par
Date de parution 11 mars 2019
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9780253040596
Langue English

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Postcolonial Politics in the Age of Globalization
Sean Jacobs
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2019 by Sean Jacobs
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Jacobs, Sean, author.
Title: Media in postapartheid South Africa : postcolonial politics in the age of globalization / Sean Jacobs.
Description: Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 2019. | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018048041 (print) | LCCN 2018052372 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253040572 (web PDF) | ISBN 9780253025319 (hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780253025425 (pbk. : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780253040596 (ebook epub)
Subjects: LCSH: Mass media-South Africa-History-20th century. | Mass media-Political aspects-South Africa. | South Africa-Politics and government-1994-
Classification: LCC P95.82.S6 (ebook) | LCC P95.82.S6 J33 2019 (print) | DDC 302.230968-dc23
LC record available at
1 2 3 4 5 24 23 22 21 20 19
For Jessica, Rosa, and Leo
1. The Mandela Channel
2. Branding the Nation in Prime Time
3. The Aspirational Viewer
4. Big Brother MultiChoice
5. HIV-Positive Media
6. The Second Afrikaner State in Cyberspace
M EDIA IN P OSTAPARTHEID South Africa is the culmination of years of engagement with South African media politics. It bears the imprint of my studies as well as of a range of interlocutors in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States who have provided valuable comments, references, the gift of their time, and encouragement over many years, sometimes without knowing it. However, I take full responsibility for the conclusions I have reached.
This book has a long genesis, originating in my time as a graduate student in political science at Northwestern University in the mid-1990s (on a Fulbright scholarship). There, I wrote a thesis on the introduction of commercial satellite television into South Africa. I subsequently returned to South Africa to work as a political researcher for a democracy think tank, the Institute for Democracy in South Africa. That job involved ample media punditry and piqued my interest in media s role in shaping political struggles. I spent the second half of 1998 researching state-media relations at Harvard s Shorenstein Center. Between 2000 and 2004, I researched and later wrote my doctoral dissertation on public mediation after apartheid by analyzing a series of elite media debates with specific reference to economic policy and social movement protest.
After completing my PhD in politics at the University of London in 2004, I returned to the subject of popular media, as I had realized that most South Africans do not experience the momentous changes to their country as elite debates (in op-ed columns or even news magazine programs on television) but through mass popular media like soap operas, reality television and advertising, and the internet.
In 2005 I took up a joint appointment in the departments of communication studies and African-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan, where I first started thinking about the topics in this book and published separately about reality television and rhetorical struggles over the AIDS pandemic.
I have presented some of the ideas in this book at academic conferences and in invited talks as well as written about my thoughts on the blog I founded in 2009, Africa Is a Country . It is these insights that I bring together in this book.
Two of my most important interlocutors are Herman Wasserman and Wendy Willems. Herman is my closest friend and our collaboration probably my longest, dating back to Cape Town in the early 1990s. Wendy and I met in Harare, Zimbabwe, in the late 1990s, and we have maintained a friendship and enjoyed debates about media that have spanned continents.
Various others were generous with ideas, support and time over the years. They include David Styan, my former PhD advisor at Birkbeck College, University of London; Sunil Agnani; Akin Akedosan; Farzanah Badsha; Omar Badsha; Patrick Bond; Mamadou Diouf; Susan Douglas; Peter Dwyer; Ntone Edjabe; Ebrahim Fakir; Jonathan Faull; Benjamin Fogel; Krista Johnson; Ron Krabill; Dan Magaziner; Elzbieta Matynia; Marissa Moorman; Martin Murray; Lene verland; Suren Pillay; Anne Pitcher; Aswin Punathembekar; Lucia Sacks; the late Elaine Salo; Paddy Scannell; Brent Simons; Dylan Valley; and the late Marilyn Young.
Andrea Meeson, Camilla Houeland, Kenichi Serino, Jessica Blatt, and Caitlin Chandler made edits on various drafts of chapters or to the full manuscript.
Gavin Silber, Mandisa Mbali, Doron Isaacs, Nathan Geffen, Brad Brockman, Anso Thom, Ashwin Desai, Achal Prabhala, Mia Malan, Kerry Cullinan, Zachary Levenson, Brett Davidson, Steven Friedman, Lily Saint, and Andrea Meeson gave comments on the chapter on HIV/AIDS social movements. Matthew Crouse, Neil McCarthy, Akin Omotoso, Vanessa Jansen, Rosa Keet, Mfundi Vundla, and Kethiwe Ngcobo agreed to be interviewed about South African soap operas. Peter Bruce, Peet Kruger, Mondli Makhanya, and Mathatha Tsedu agreed to be interviewed for a journal article about the media and xenophobia in 2003. Those interviews proved very useful in forming a picture of South African media after the transition. Interactions with Christi van der Westhuizen, Thomas Michael Blaser, Tom Devriendt, and Jacob Boersema and their collective researches especially influenced my thinking about Afrikaner identity politics. Over the years, many other South African media workers and journalists-too many to recount here-gave informally of their time to chat about the sector; a lot of those discussions made it into my formulations and conclusions.
Aubrey Bloomfield, Yael Even Or, Adam Esrig, and Pablo Medina Uribe assisted with research. Thanks also to my colleagues and students in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School and previously at the Center for Afro-American and African Studies as well as Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, where I floated some of these ideas in classes and seminars. For four summers in a row between 2012 and 2015, I accompanied groups of New School graduate students as part of the International Field Program to Cape Town. These two-month visits proved valuable in updating my conclusions about what was happening to media in South Africa.
Earlier versions of some of the content in chapter 4 , Big Brother MultiChoice, were explored in Big Brother , Africa Is Watching, Media, Culture and Society 29, no. 6 (2007): 851-868.
Though the material is new and the focus different, I have written before about the themes in chapter 5 , HIV-Positive Media, in Media, Social Movements and the State: Competing Images of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, coauthored with Krista Johnson and published in African Studies Quarterly 9, no. 4 (Fall 2007): 127-152.
I could not have asked for a more patient editor, Dee Mortensen, who stuck with me throughout this process. Special thanks also to Paige Rasmussen at Indiana University Press for working with me.
My children, Leo and Rosa, have to listen to me endlessly drone on about South Africa and Africa. It is so they do not forget who they are. It was fun watching South African television commercials, clips from soap operas, and parliamentary debates with them on YouTube. I can still hear them on the latter: Can we watch Point of Order again, Dad?
Finally, to Jessica Blatt, my partner in life and one of the smartest and most perceptive people I know. She read most of the manuscript, shot down my worst ideas, and helped me formulate some of the best. She loves me more than I deserve, and, more than anyone, has made me a better writer.
S OUTH A FRICAN B REWERIES (SAB) has long dominated the national beer market and is associated with the country s most popular sports teams. In 2002 SAB acquired the US company Miller Brewing. While one of SAB s brands, Castle Lager, became South Africa s most recognizable brand of beer, SABMiller became a multinational corporation, the world s second largest beer brewer, and a global brand. 1 Notwithstanding this expanding profile, much of SABMiller s branding continued to emphasize its South African roots.
One of SABMiller s most popular television commercials first aired in 2004 on the tenth anniversary of South Africa s first democratic elections. The commercial opens with scenes of crowds across South Africa gathering on streets, on beaches, and in fields. The camera zooms in on a crowd that is noticeably diverse in terms of class, race, age, and gender. Gradually, each person picks up a stretch of rope from the ground and starts pulling. In the next few fast-cut scenes, viewers note the dramatic effects of the crowds collective effort, literally felt around the world. A guard at Buckingh

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