The demise of apartheid was one of the great achievements of postwar history, sought after and celebrated by a progressive global community. Looking at these events from the other side, An African Volk explores how the apartheid regime strove to maintain power as the world of white empire gave way to a post-colonial environment that repudiated racial hierarchy.
Drawing upon archival research across Southern Africa and beyond, as well as over fifty hours of interviews with leading figures from the apartheid order, Jamie Miller shows how the regime attempted to turn the new political climate to its advantage. Instead of simply resisting decolonization and African nationalism in the name of white supremacy, the architects of apartheid looked to co-opt and invert the norms of the new global era to promote a fresh ideological basis for their rule. The regime adapted discourses of nativist identity, African anti-colonialism, economic development, anti-communism, and state sovereignty to rearticulate what it meant to be African and thereby acquire a new legitimacy.
Situated at the nexus of African, decolonization, and Cold War history, An African Volk details both the global and local dimensions of this improbable phenomenon. At the dawn of the 1970s, the apartheid state reached out eagerly to independent Africa in an effort to reject the mantle of colonialism and redefine the white polity as a full part of the post-colonial world. But this outreach both reflected and fueled heated debates within white society, exposing a deeply divided polity in the midst of profound economic, cultural, and social change.