2014 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize

Knowledge in the Blood: Confronting Race and the Apartheid Past

Jonathan Jansen (Stanford University Press)

Knowledge in the Blood

This book tells the story of white South African students – how they remember and enact an apartheid past they were never part of. How is it that young Afrikaners, born at the time of Mandela's release from prison, hold firm views about a past they never lived, rigid ideas about black people, and fatalistic thoughts about the future? Jonathan Jansen, the first black dean of education at the historically white University of Pretoria, was dogged by this question during his tenure, and Knowledge in the Blood seeks to answer it.

Knowledge in the Blood combines three critical dimensions for the prize: the winning book was required to have a strong evidence base, impact a broad reading public and engage with the complex issues of cultural identity. The book demonstrates the author’s personal involvement in transcultural understanding in the South African context. He develops a clear thesis about the need for change in approaches to education and society in South Africa. His approach is original, and he has not been afraid to embrace controversial positions with courage. While the analysis is directed at a specific cultural and historical nexus – post-apartheid South Africa – the particularities of that situation and the deep rooted nature of the divisions inherent in it resonate broadly beyond the context of South Africa alone. Jansen’s work provides lessons that transcend to universal applicability.

Jonathan D. Jansen is Honorary Professor of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand and Visiting Fellow at the National Research Foundation, both in South Africa. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University and Dean of Education at the University of Pretoria. His latest co-authored book is Diversity High: Class, Color, Character and Culture in a South African High School.

Read this interview with Jonathan Jansen from 2018.

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