Project

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Cultural relations between Switzerland and South Africa, 1948-1994

English title Cultural relations between Switzerland and South Africa, 1948-1994
Applicant Walton Chris
Number 182311
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut Interpretation Hochschule der Künste Bern Berner Fachhochschule
Institution of higher education Berne University of Applied Sciences - BFH
Main discipline Music, Theatre
Start/End 01.08.2019 - 31.07.2023
Approved amount 886'820.00
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All Disciplines (7)

Discipline
Music, Theatre
Musicology
General history (without pre-and early history)
German and English languages and literature
Other languages and literature
Theatre and Cinema
Swiss history

Keywords (15)

Dürrenmatt, Friedrich; South African jazz; Swiss 20th-century music; Translation; Swiss cultural relations; Swiss musicians; 20th-century theatre; South Africa; Frisch, Max; South African musicians; Music and politics; Apartheid; Swiss 20th-century literature; South African literature; Swiss jazz

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Während der Apartheid-Ära war der kulturelle Austausch zwischen der Schweiz und Südafrika von grosser Bedeutung. Dieser fand auf mehreren Ebenen statt, offiziell und inoffiziell.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts war die schweizerische Kultur in Südafrika weitgehend auf die Popularität von Johanna Spyris Heidi beschränkt. Erst während der Apartheid-Ära, ab 1948, gab es ernsthafte Bemühungen, die wachsenden geschäftlichen Beziehungen zwischen beiden Ländern durch kulturellen Austausch zu fördern. Schweizer Künstlerinnen und Künstler wurden auf Tourneen eingeladen und Werke von Dürrenmatt und Frisch ins Afrikaans übersetzt und gespielt – dem internationalen Kulturboykott zum Trotz. Umgekehrt fanden schwarze Exilkünstler in der Schweizer Jazzszene eine neue Heimat, während die Theaterstücke von Athol Fugard – in Südafrika teils verboten wegen ihrer oppositionellen Haltung – in der Schweiz ebenfalls ein begeistertes Publikum zählten.

Dieses Projekt will diesen vielschichtigen kulturellen Austausch untersuchen und kontextualisieren. Was oberflächlich wie eine getreue Spiegelung der Zu- und Abnahme der Geschäftsbeziehungen aussehen mag, erweist sich als höchst komplexe Angelegenheit, in der die Entscheidungen privater Akteure manchmal ebenso bedeutend waren wie behördliche Aktivitäten.

 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

In diesem Projekt werden verschiedene Methoden der Kulturwissenschaften integriert, um den kulturellen Austausch zwischen der Schweiz und Südafrika von 1948 bis 1994 auf diplomatischer, politischer, institutioneller und individueller Ebene zu untersuchen und um neues Licht auf die Wechselbeziehungen dieser Ebenen zu werfen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 03.07.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Publications

Publication
African Theatre 19
FOURIE PAULA (2020), African Theatre 19, in Odhiambo Christopher, van der Hoven Lena, Matzke Christine, Roos Hilde, Adeyemi Sola (ed.), Boydell & Brewer, Woodbridge, 29-51.
Vom Bauernhof zum Hofstaat
WaltonChristopher (2020), Vom Bauernhof zum Hofstaat, in Schweizerische Musikzeitung, 12-17.
“Little man you’ve had a busy day”: Music in the onstage and offstage lives of “Master Harold”
Fourie Paula (2020), “Little man you’ve had a busy day”: Music in the onstage and offstage lives of “Master Harold”, in The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 0021989419-0021989419.
“Dis Nie Myne Nie, Dis Nie Joune Nie” or Kramer and Petersen’s Ghoema: Inscribing the Past, Claiming the Present?
Fourie Puala (2020), “Dis Nie Myne Nie, Dis Nie Joune Nie” or Kramer and Petersen’s Ghoema: Inscribing the Past, Claiming the Present?, in Maufort Jessica, Maufort Marc (ed.), Brill | Rodopi, Leiden, 293-312.
“Master Harold” … and the boys by Athol Fugard
Fourie Paula (2020), “Master Harold” … and the boys by Athol Fugard, in Younger Kelly (ed.), Methuen Drama, London, 235-238.
Review: The La traviata Affair: Opera in the Age of Apartheid
WaltonChristopher (2019), Review: The La traviata Affair: Opera in the Age of Apartheid, in Opera, 70(9), 1209-1210.

Abstract

The proposed project will investigate cultural relations between Switzerland and South Africa during the apartheid period and the transition to democracy (1948-1994). This is a field that specifically did not belong to the remit of the large-scale National Research Programme NRP 42+ under the leadership of Georg Kreis, commissioned by the Federal Council in the early 2000s, whose purpose (see 2.0 below) was to report on political and economic relations between the two countries. The present project is on a different scale; its specific focus on cultural issues will complement the findings of NFP 42+, but unlike that Programme it will engage intensively with South African sources, including and especially those in Afrikaans and other indigenous languages, and will work closely with multi-ethnic project partners in South Africa. This project will also draw on recent trends in the study of cultural diplomacy, Cold War studies and postcolonialism. The specific methodologies employed will be chosen and adapted according to the needs of the individual Subprojects. Subproject A will deal with overarching cultural relations and diplomacy across the arts (visual, filmic, musical, literary and theatrical). The other Subprojects will focus on music (classical and jazz, B and C respectively), and literature and theatre (D and E), as these were the arts in which the most significant exchanges took place. There will be extensive archival research in Switzerland and South Africa, and the project will also expand into oral history with numerous interviews of involved personalities in both countries. New information can be gained on the stance towards "race" and politics adopted by major cultural figures (e.g. Max Frisch; see Subproject D); the Swiss jazz scene is revealed as a site of black transnational identity (see Subproject C); Switzerland in the 1980s is shown to have been a major importer of anti-apartheid theatre (Subproject E); and the role of language and metaphor can be demonstrated to transform meanings entirely (see, for example, Subprojects B and D). Each Subproject will include a discussion of the cultural boycott of South Africa - its intent, its efficacy, and Switzerland’s refusal to participate. This may prove of relevance today, at a time when "boycotts", both cultural and otherwise, have acquired a new currency in world affairs. Where pertinent, we shall compare Swiss attitudes and policies with the stance of other Western countries at the time. Hitherto research on Switzerland and South Africa has inevitably looked closest at the role that Swiss business and politics played as enablers for the apartheid state. We aim instead to shed light on what was in fact a complex process of give and take, identifying and mapping the various stances adopted in cultural relations by both "official" state actors and private individuals, institutions and organisations, in hopes of elucidating understandings and misunderstandings in fields where meanings and intentions became fluid. The outputs will be a doctoral thesis in book form, two further books and several articles. An annual workshop will be held for all researchers of the Subprojects, a symposium will be held at Stellenbosch University in 2022, and a closing international conference in Bern in 2023.
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