Home > Summer School > Summer School 2022 > PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS > Post-1994 constitutionalism


Professor Joel Modiri, University of Pretoria, Dr Ndumiso Dladla, UNISA, and Judge Dennis Davis

The first two lectures by Dr Dladla consist of a critical examination of contemporary liberal political thought and its characterisation of the contemporary constitutional order as a ‘new apartheid’. The course aims to show that the emphasis upon apartheid in South African historical thinking, social theory and jurisprudence is a result of the hegemony of White academic historiography. Apartheid is a minor political-administrative and juridical episode forming part of a more fundamental and continuous historical condition of a state of conquest which survives even today. Contrary to recent attempts to discursively indigenise it, we argue that the latest constitution is a product of the same white historical imagination which produced its predecessors. We will subject it to an Azanian critique focusing especially on its elimination of the historical fact of conquest from the juristic universe it fabulated. We conclude by discussing the ethical and political necessity of its abolition in any sincere struggle for historical justice.

Lectures three and four by Professor Modiri examines the meaning and progress of post-1994 constitutional democracy in South Africa in terms of its historical roots in colonial conquest, settler-colonialism and white supremacy. The argument explored in the course is that the lack of restoration and fundamental change that trails and characterises the present South African legal and political order can be traced to the afterlife of colonial-apartheid. The course will problematise the widespread public, political and academic worship of the South African constitution and its putatively transformative and revolutionary character. It will present a synthesis of critical perspectives on post-1994 law, society and constitutionalism as a historical opening for the reimagining of a new social order and a liberatory jurisprudence.


Lecture titles

1. An Africanist explains apartheid: conquest, White supremacy and South African historiography
 and social theory Dr Dladla

2.  A short introduction to constitutional abolitionism Dr Dladla

3.  The problem of constitutional worship as anti-politics Professor Modiri

4.  Anti-colonial imaginaries of constitutionalism Professor Modiri

5.  Panel discussion with Professor Modiri, Dr Dladla and Judge Dennis Davis





DATE: Monday 17–Friday 21 January
TIME: 3.00 pm
COURSE FEES: R375 (online)/R550 (in person)