Founded In    1999
Published   quarterly
Language(s)   English

Fields of Interest


Humanities and Social Sciences

ISSN   1543-1304
Publisher   Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Editorial Board

  Andrew Offenburger, Yale University

  Rita Barnard, University of Pennsylvania
  Christopher Saunders, University of Cape Town

  Andrew Van der Vlies, University of Sheffield

  Azeem Badroodien, University of Nottingham
  Surendra Bhana, University of Kansas
  Derek Catsam, University of Texas of the Permian Basin
  Greg Cuthbertson, University of South Africa
  Leigh Anne Duck, University of Memphis
  Norman Etherington, University of Western Australia
  George M. Fredrickson, Stanford University
  Christopher J. Lee, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  Alex Lichtenstein, Florida International University
  Peter Limb, Michigan State University
  Sabine Marschall, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  Lesley Marx, University of Cape Town
  Pearl McHaney, Georgia State University
  David Chioni Moore, Macalester College
  Peter Rachleff, Macalester College
  Renée Schatteman, Georgia State University
  Robert C.-H. Shell, University of the Western Cape
  Sandy Shell, University of Cape Town
  Keyan Tomaselli, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  Luvuyo Wotshela, University of Fort Hare

Submission Guidelines and Editorial Policies
Mailing Address

Safundi Publications
P.O. Box 206788
New Haven, CT 06520
(203) 548-9155 / Phone
(203) 548-9177 / Fax

Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies


Safundi -- "S" represents "South Africa," "a" stands for "America," and "fundi" comes from the Xhosa verb, "-funda," which translates as "to read/learn."

Safundi is an online community of scholars, professionals, and others interested in comparing and contrasting the United States of America with the Republic of South Africa.

Our journal, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, is the centerpiece of our online community. We believe that analyzing the two countries in a comparative and transnational context enhances our perspective on each, individually. While new comparative research is the focus of the journal, we also publish articles specifically addressing one country, provided the articles are of interest to the comparative scholar. Furthermore, our subject matter is as permeable as any country's border: we will consider research addressing other colonial and postcolonial states in Southern Africa and North America.

Articles that Safundi publishes are academic in nature. Research papers are reviewed as they are submitted. Scholarly essays are welcomed. Any topic may be addressed. We hope to provide our readers with a diverse and insightful collection of articles in each issue.

We publish on a quarterly basis. Our journal is peer-reviewed. Submissions are vetted by the editors-in-chief and the editorial board before they are accepted for publication.

The views expressed in the articles are those of the authors and not of the editors or of Safundi itself.


» Visit Journal Web Site

Deterritorializing American Culture, 23

This collection of articles approaches “America” and “South Africa” as diasporic and translational phenomena.

An Introduction to Issue 23: Deterritorializing American Culture

This introduction summarizes the collective concerns of the essays in this volume and suggests that they are ultimately best captured in the notion of "deterritorialization": a consideration of cultural products as they are exported or interpretively wrested away from their geographic origins and from their "natural" context in any sort of unilinear national narrative. It also describes the origins of this issue. The initial idea was create a counterpart to an earlier issue of Safundi, which featured reflections on the way South African history, culture, and politics is presented at U.S. universities. The editors therefore set out by asking a number of South African scholars, many of them in English departments, to reflect on the way in which U.S. culture was taught in South Africa. It soon emerged, however, that a strictly pedagogical focus was too constricting to generate a rich collection. While several of the articles in this issue do include reflections on pedagogy, the collection as a whole now presents a broader consideration of the nature of U.S.-South African cultural exchange. It leaves one with a sense that that the near-absence of American studies in the formal curriculum in South Africa has produced a need for methodological inventiveness and a desire to examine matters that are often ignored in academia. These include not only popular culture, but also the complicated, intimate, and often undisclosed relationship of the scholar to the subject of his or her research: the personal and political reasons behind his or her intellectual and imaginative engagement. This collection, in sum, approaches "America" and "South Africa" as diasporic and translational phenomena.

The Un-Americanness of American Literature

Taking stock of recent trends in American studies, Watson uses Malcolm Lowry's neglected novel Lunar Caustic (1968) as an entry point into an exploration of the implications for readers and teachers of movements in American studies in a transnational direction. He argues that Lowry's novel can be read as a precursor and allegory of current attempts to position American studies and culture within a transnational and cosmopolitan network: Lowry re-imagines and re-interprets American literature and popular culture without centralizing and naturalizing their relationship with the cultural and national imaginaries of the American nation-state. Instead, American culture is depicted as a component of a transnational system, which constitutes and determines America as much as it, in turn, is modulated by the globalization of American culture. Lowry's novel maps and foregrounds this transnational terrain, constituted by a series of reciprocal movements between the local and the global, and challenges thereby a pedagogy grounded in the area studies model of literary scholarship.

American Musical Surrogracy: A View from Post-World War II South Africa

In this paper Muller asks the question what exactly was "American" about music made in and by Americans distributed globally as "popular" music in the twentieth century by examining the migration of this music in the post-World War II era. In this narrative, "American" music is deterritorialized by commoditization and at times might also be thought of as a diasporic entity. "Diasporic" here refers to the dispersion of musical commodities rather than living musicians into global networks of distribution and consumption. These commodities bear the personal and collective histories of their makers to consumers: to people who often live elsewhere, but share a social position similar to that of those who make the music. In their places of destination these commodities frequently convey feelings of intimacy, immediacy, even personal presesnce through the medium of music recorded in distant centers of cultural production but purchased and broadcast locally. What distinguishes a generalized global circulation of musical commodities from a "diasporic" one is the way in which musical objects are humanized by consumers who felt that the recording or radio broadcast was merely a substitute or surrogate for the real voices and instrumental performances of living musicians not able to travel in person. The media of transmission stands in for, or represents the original musicians in their absence, much as a woman surrogate substitutes her body for the body of another in giving birth to a child. "American music" is thus a transitional or translational phenomenon.

Home on the Range: The Americanization of my Father

In this article, Marx explores the social and historical roots of her family's attachment to country and western music. Specifically, she examines the influence of American popular culture on her father, born to a large Afrikaans family, and informed by film, musical and pulp fiction stories of the west. These stories have helped to frame the way in which he reads his life story. She suggests that her father's experience offers flexible ways of analyzing the impact of American cultural forms on certain kinds of South Africans while also giving a new perspective on how those forms might be read in contexts beyond the places that gave birth to them.

The Tiny Skin Boat: Visiting Gary Snyder in “Amerika”

This is a narrative essay which reflects on a visit to the United States in 2005 to interview Gary Snyder and attend a conference on literature and ecology. The speaker describes teaching Snyder's poetry in South Africa as part of an attempt to develop an approach to reading and writing that conveys a sense of the urgency of environmental issues, and of their implicatedness in social and political ones. Meeting him again serves to confirm and to some extent complicate the committment to these priorities.

Oprah’s Paton, or South Africa and the Globalization of Suffering

This article emerges from the author's work for the website of Harpo Inc., Oprah Winfrey's vast multinational media corporation. From December 2003 to January 2004, Barnard served as the official "literary guide" to members of Oprah's Book Club as they made their way through Alan Paton's novel Cry, the Beloved Country. The essay meditates on this most recent chapter in this "hypercanonical" book's transnational reception. Barnard agrues that, as mediated by Oprah, Cry, the Beloved Country is no longer the problematic, urbophobic "Jim Goes to Joburg" story that South African readers (including such important figures as Esk'ia Mphahlele, Stephen Watson, Tony Morphet, and J.M. Coetzee) have often subjected to sharp critique. It is transformed into an "Oprah" product: a narrative in which "the glamour of misery," as Eva Illouz has termed Oprah's chief stock-in-trade, generates a highly sentimental and commercialized form of global thinking and feeling. The essay closes with a series of reflections on the general implications of Oprah's Paton for future studies of literary reception. While Barnard is hesitant to entirely reject Oprah Winfrey's form of empathetic globalization (it is clearly preferable to the globalization of greed, revenge, and religious polarization sponsored by the Bush administration), it is nevertheless, in her view, inseparable from voyeurism and profit and is far too closely tied to a therapeutic feel-good mode of consumption to be ethical in any serious sense. Though a singular media event, the "Americanization" of this South African novel under the auspices of Oprah's Book Club tells us much about the instability of cultural products as they make the South-North or North-South passage across the Atlantic.

Other Issues

July 2013, Volume 14, Number 3
April 2007, Volume 8, Number 2
January 2007, Volume 8, Number 1
Safundi Issue 22, Issue 22
George Fredrickson's White Supremacy , Issue 21
October 2005, Issue 20
July 2005, Issue 19
April 2005, Issue 18
January 2005, Issue 17
October 2004, Issue 16
July 2004, Issue 15
April 2004, Issue 13-14
October 2003, Issue 12
July 2003, Issue 11
April 2003, Issue 10
May 2002, Issue 09
February 2002, Issue 08
November 2001, Issue 07
July 2001, Issue 06
April 2001, Issue 05
January 2001, Issue 04
October 2000, Issue 03
July 2000, Issue 02