"Ordinary Whites in Apartheid Society" – a compelling and insightful book by UFH Dean, Prof Neil Roos

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Prof Neil Roos, University of Fort Hare (UFH) Social Sciences & Humanities Dean and History Professor has recently published a compelling and insightful book that seeks to shape the understanding of South Africa’s past. 

Titled: "Ordinary Whites in Apartheid Society," Prof Roos delves into a crucial question: How were whites implicated in and shaped by apartheid culture and society, and how did they contribute to it?

Starting from 1948, when the National Party rose to power with its catchall apartheid slogan, Prof Roos takes readers on a journey through the lives of ordinary white people in South Africa during the apartheid era.

Through meticulous research and personal anecdotes, including insights from his own family's history, he uncovers a complex reality.

Prof Roos explores how working-class whites frequently defied particular aspects of the apartheid state but seldom opposed or even acknowledged the idea of racial supremacy, which lay at the heart of apartheid society.  This cognitive dissonance afforded them a way to simultaneously accommodate and oppose apartheid and allowed them to later claim they never supported the apartheid system. 

Published internationally by Indiana University Press, with a local edition published by Wits University Press, this book serves as a moving reminder that the politics and practice of race, particularly apartheid-era whiteness, were not solely dictated from the top-down. Rather, they were deeply entrenched in the fabric of society, with implications that resonate to this day.

It offers invaluable insights into a complex historical period, shedding light on the complex dynamics of race, power, and resistance.

Prof Roos recently engaged in an insightful interview with Nancy Richards, an independent print, radio journalist, podcast host, and media trainer. During the conversation, Prof Roos elaborated extensively on the themes and findings of his latest book. Listen to the interview here: NEIL ROOS: Ordinary Whites in Apartheid South Africa - People's Stories & Books | Podcast on Spotify

Prof Roos will be speaking at launch events across the country in June, including one hosted by the South African Historical Society.