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South Africa's Resistance Press: Alternative Voices in the Last Generation of Apartheid

Article excerpt

Switzer, Les, and Mohamed Adhikari, eds. South Africa's Resistance Press: Alternative Voices in the Last Generation of Apartheid. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 2000. 505 pp. $30.

This is the most recent of four major books examining the history and significance of the alternative press in South Africa. In this ambitious project, editors Les Switzer and Mohamed Adhikari assembled and organized in two parts eleven chapters by twelve authors-including social scientists, historians, librarians, journalists, and journalism and communication scholars. They tell the dramatic stories of the founding and struggle and failure or success of dozens of publications that undoubtedly played important roles in the democratization of South Africa in the last half of the twentieth century.

This book completes Professor Switzer's trilogy on the South African alternative press, a subject that has formed his primary research program. His and Donna Switzer's The Black Press in South Africa and Lesotho (1979) was followed by his excellent South Africa's Alternative Press (1997). The Alternative Press in South Africa (1991), edited by Keyan Tomaselli and P. Eric Louw, is also a key contribution to the literature on the alternative press in South Africa. More generally these works yield a rich understanding of the relationship between media and society.

Strengthened with illustrations and an index, South Africa's Resistance Press begins with a thoughtful preface by Guy Berger, a prominent South African journalist who was at the center of traumatic press activity during the country's modern political history. In an effort to put the ensuing history of alternative journalism into a broader perspective, most of Switzer's seventy-five-page introduction is devoted to a presentation of the national social, political, cultural, and economic events, trends, figures, and organizations from the 1960s to the 1990s, which makes it easier to understand to what the press reacted. …