Ecologies of Relation: Post-Slavery, Post-Apartheid and Rethinking Race Across the Atlantic in Zakes Mda’s Cion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

279 Downloads (Pure)


This article will argue that Zakes Mda’s 2007 novel Cion stages a dialog, one where two “Souths” – South Africa and the American South – speak to one another and give a critical voice to an under-acknowledged history of transatlantic discursive exchange on race and racial governance. Mda’s fictional South African critique, of an America still struggling with the cultural and political legacies of slavery, gestures towards a history of exchange between the two countries that in many ways is representative of a more global dialog on racial segregation during the first half of the twentieth century – of which both southern (US) segregation and apartheid are seminal examples. Moreover, this article explores various conceptualizations of race as well as the governance of racial relations as they have been articulated through ecological imaginaries, and especially between South Africa and the Southern United States over the course of the twentieth century. In this article, I argue that not only can apartheid (as well as pre-apartheid segregation) be rethought of as part of a global conversation on race and thus less as a South African anomaly, but also that the United States through its examples of various racialist technologies was highly influential across the colonial and apartheid worlds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalSafundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies
Issue number1
Early online date15 Feb 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2016


  • Apartheid,
  • slavery,
  • United States
  • South Africa,
  • segregation
  • ecology
  • racial policy
  • Zakes Mda,
  • Hendrik Verwoerd

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Ecologies of Relation: Post-Slavery, Post-Apartheid and Rethinking Race Across the Atlantic in Zakes Mda’s Cion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this