Thozama April-Maduma, Visiting Scholar, University of the Western Cape
Abstract: Charlotte Maxeke was one of the most critical thinkers of race in the early twentieth century South Africa. She is both the founder of the first woman’s movement in South Africa and a contributor to the ideas that formed the larger African Diaspora. Maxeke’s thoughts were shaped in relation to movements that Paul Gilroy characterises as the ‘Black Atlantic,’ a movement of stereophonic, bilingual, bifocal, cultural forms originated by but no longer the exclusive property of blacks dispersed within the structures of feeling producing communicating and remembering,’ This ensemble, Gilroy argues, dislodges nationalist interpretations of culture. Gilroy’s concept of the ‘Black Atlantic’ is instructive in locating Maxeke’s thoughts in two ways: 1] it offers a critique of nationalist narrations that celebrate Maxeke’s name with little regard for her thought and practices in contemporary South Africa.2] it provides a productive space from which Maxeke’s intellectual character can be located and made available for public scrutiny in cultural and intellectual history of South Africa and beyond.