Perceptions of Apartheid in Western Europe 1960 – 1990
Conference 13th to 15th September 2018
Organizers: Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg (FZH), Universität Kopenhagen
Conference report of Christopher Seiberlich
Venue: University of Hamburg, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, Von-Melle-Park 9, Room S29 & S30
How did Western European societies respond to the apartheid system in South Africa? In the last two decades this question has mainly been answered in the contexts of specific national historical researches, more or less detached from each other. Understanding those responses as a transnational and entangled history between Western European and South African societies on the contrary is still a desideratum in contemporary historical research. The conference will focus on those entanglements during the time of the 1960s until the 1990s. A key term for analyzing and understanding those responses is the one of ‘perceptions’. Governments, companies, trade unions, churches, political parties, protest movements and other societal groups and institutions reactions on the apartheid system were based on a complex processes of perceptions. Those processes of perception refer to different systems of meaning linked to different spheres and times of Western European societies and those in South Africa.
What the conference aims at is to reflect ‘Perceptions of Apartheid’ in its complex manifestations and ramifications. The lectures will discuss ‘reactions from afar’, they will examine the involvement of West European protagonists in South African society during apartheid era and they will focus on entanglements, transitions and processes of cultural translations between Western Europe and South Africa.
What changed in Western European societies through those ‘Perceptions of Apartheid’? To which specific national contexts do those perceptions refer? In which way do those perceptions and reactions exceed the national frames and enter a transnational space? Can we speak of a specific West European way of perceiving events and developments in South Africa from 1960s to 1990s or were those perceptions totally disparate?
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