Keeping a Sharp Eye: A Century of Cartoons on South Africa's International Relations 1910-2010 [NOOK Book]


International relations are what a government does when nobodyâs looking. While this may well once have been true, the conduct of international relations in South
Africa and elsewhere has come under increasing scrutiny by the public. This is partially the result of specialist expertise around the formal study of international relations and the making of foreign policy, ...
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Keeping a Sharp Eye: A Century of Cartoons on South Africa's International Relations 1910-2010

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International relations are what a government does when nobodyâs looking. While this may well once have been true, the conduct of international relations in South
Africa and elsewhere has come under increasing scrutiny by the public. This is partially the result of specialist expertise around the formal study of international relations and the making of foreign policy, enhanced by the development of
International Relations as a separate academic field.
Like the growth of institutes of international affairs (or the Council on Foreign
Relations, in the case of America), the study of international relations commenced at the end of the First World War (1914â18) with the establishment at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, of the first academic chair in International Relations. It was called for Woodrow Wilson, Americaâs twenty-eighth president, and funded by
Welsh businessman and pacifist David Davis.
In South Africa, the study of international relations commenced with the establishment of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA),
which met for the first time in the Senate Chamber of the University of Cape Town on 12 May 1934. Until then International Relations had been taught in various guises within History, Law, Economics and Politics courses, but it lacked a firm institutional base. In South Africa, International Relations was first taught as a separate academic discipline at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1963 â
although a professorship, called for Jan Smuts, was first filled in 1961.
Long before this institutional setting, however, a more subversive â and certainly more spicy â variety of international relations understanding and critique was at work: this was, of course, the âsharp eyeâ on foreign policy and international relations, drawn in jest â and sometimes in anger â by cartoonists. Their interest in international relations predates the emergence of the powerful critical perspectives that have changed and almost redirected the field since the ending of the Cold War.
This book is about how these âotherâ experts have looked at and commented on South Africaâs relations with the world over the past century. It examines their interpretations of unfolding events and considers how these commentators and their work interacted with the more formal understandings of foreign policy and international relations that came to pass long after cartoons first appeared.
A century of South Africaâs engagement with the world is, understandably,
a long and complex story. Cartoons on the country were done years before the
1910 Act of Union, as some well-known cartoons of the Anglo-Boer War suggest.
However, by confining my choices to a hundred years of the South African state, I
have chosen firm bookends for the collection.
The choice of cartoons itself requires further clarification. There is a rather worrying recent notion in South Africa that nothing that happened in the country before the historic election of 1994 matters. In April 2009, at a conference, I heard an academic colleague say that what happened in the 1930s was âillegitimateâ
and of no real relevance to the present. This lack of interest in history is both short-sighted and intellectually lazy. South Africaâs international relations today are determined as much by the cartoons drawn by Boonzaier in 1910 as they are by the cartoons drawn by Zapiro in 2010. I choose these two names not only because they conveniently cover almost the full range of the alphabet, but because they run from the founding of the South African state in 1910 to the present.
Their names signal something else, too. I have only chosen drawings by cartoonists who worked in South Africa. As will be clear, many cartoonists were not South Africanâborn but brought the cartoonistâs trade with them to this country. As such, they brought interpretations and understandings of the world that helped to shape South Africaâs perspectives on international relations. Most of the artists in this book are â to use the classification that has also helped to make South Africaâs social pathologies â white. There is no need to apologise for this, I
believe: the simple fact is that far too few cartoonists from other race groups have drawn pictures in this field.1
The story of the remarkable Len Sak, however, suggests that crossing this divide may not be as important as we are often made to believe. Born and raised in Port Elizabeth, Sak spent almost his entire professional life drawing cartoons for African newspapers and was cartooning for South Africaâs The World when it was banned during a bleak October in 1977. Indeed, Sakâs most famous character was Jojo, a township âeverymanâ who was a legend among the paperâs readers.
Of course, there is a new generation of South African cartoonists; their work is excellent, as some of the drawings in this collection suggest.
A few words of further explanation are in order.
First, the overriding interest here is with international relations, namely South
Africaâs formal interaction with other countries. Sustaining this organisational principle, however, was a little difficult because the conversations in international relations often spill into other areas â trade, commerce, communication, culture and many more. There are therefore no binding definitions at work in this selection.
As with most social issues, hard and fast definitions often leave the real world behind.
Second, writing the words that follow proved more difficult than first anticipated. Did I select an event and seek a suitable cartoon, or did I select a cartoon and write about the event? In the end, it was even-steven: sometimes the cartoons won the commentary; sometimes the event. As a result, this is not a full catalogue of
South African foreign policy over a century; that piece of work remains to be done.
What follows in these pages must be considered a selective account only.
Third, and following from the foregoing, these are not âthe bestâ or âthe greatestâ hundred cartoons to appear on South Africaâs international relations.
Frankly, achieving that goal is not possible. This is instead a selection of cartoons from South Africaâs first century.
Although I tried to get a broad sweep of cartoons, this was not possible. As a result, the work of some of my favourite cartoonists â the late Len Lindique and
Fred Mouton, for example â is not included. A reason for this, I believe, is the absence of a register of cartoons in South Africa.
This also explains why the dating of the cartoons in the book is unsystematic and, in some cases, unsatisfactory. As it is impossible to find the exact dates when each and every one of these cartoons appeared, I have in some instances given the year only in square brackets. A question mark has been inserted where I have had to estimate the year of publication.
Electronic archiving and the recently established Centre for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts at Stellenbosch University will make it easier to date cartoons exactly.
The reader must be clear about two further things. First, this is not a book on the technique or sociology of cartoons and cartooning. In preparing the text I have superficially read in this field but have not, I am afraid, brought much to these pages beyond a shallow knowledge of cartooning. I have tried at various points to say something about the work and lives of the cartoonists, both in the entries and in a listing at the back of the book. To do this, I have drawn liberally from the helpful Companion to South African Cartoonists compiled by the late Murray and Elzabé Schoonraad, and from Andy Masonâs encyclopaedic Whatâs So Funny?
Under the Skin of South African Cartooning. Second, while I am an academic who has written on international relations, my hope is that the book will be accessible to non-academics. This is not always easy in a field that is increa
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781477149348
  • Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/10/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 15 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

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