Roger Bell - In Apartheid's Shadow - Tuesday 29th October

Panel with Meredith Burgmann and Heather Goodall

In the aftermath of global war, colonialism and racism came under unprecedented assault. An Australian journalist cabled from Johannesburg in 1952: ‘Apartheid is the trigger that has fired racial explosions in South Africa and sent echoes rumbling around the world’. In the ‘white’ Dominions, Australia and South Africa, the politics of anti-racism were unleashed - albeit in different ways and with very different consequences.

Apartheid in South Africa was a difficult reminder of Anglo-Australia’s own racialised past and discriminatory present. Relations with the apartheid state reveal, powerfully, how white Australia understood and responded to an extreme version of itself – white supremacist South Africa.

Increasingly, Australia was labeled as the other state of apartheid, condemned for enforcing a ‘parallel Apartheid’. It, too, was obliged to grapple with pressures transforming the politics of race globally - to address urgent moral and political issues confronting countries built on ‘white’ supremacy.

Shadows cast by apartheid were powerful - if unexpected - catalysts for change. Protracted contests over apartheid in South Africa provoked in Australia bitter contests over race, rights and reform. These were played out on the world stage and, as Indigenous activists and the anti-Apartment Movement wanted, in White Australia’s ‘own backyard’. Ideologies of race and white privilege were gradually disrupted; constitution reform enacted. Slowly, walls of discrimination cracked. Anti-Springbok protests in 1971 put Australia at the centre of a vast transnational movement to sanction Pretoria. Relations with the apartheid regime cooled as a more openly progressive Australia attempted to wash away the stains of the nation’s discriminatory history

Date and time: Tuesday 29th October, 6pm for 6.30pm

Please RSVP here or phone 02 9660 2333

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