Dr Faeeza Ballim, Department of History, University of Johannesburg

Saturday 13 January 1.00–3.00 pm COURSE FEES R220; Staff and students R110

This double lecture will explore how the intersection of technology and politics has shaped South African history since the 1960s. It is impossible to understand South Africa’s energy crisis without knowing this history. Based on her deeply researched book, Faeeza Ballim will challenge our many prevailing assumptions and beliefs regarding the energy crisis. The book disputes the idea that the technological state corporations were proxies for the apartheid government. While a part of the broader national modernisation project under apartheid, these corporations also set the stage for worker solidarity and trade union organisation in the Waterberg and elsewhere in the country. She argues that the state corporations, their technology, and their engineers enjoyed ambivalent relationships with the governments of their time. And in the democratic era, while Eskom has been caught up in the scourge of government corruption, it has retained a degree of organisational autonomy and offered a degree of resistance to those who were attempting further corrupt practices.


Recommended reading

Ballim, F. 2023. Apartheid’s Leviathan: Electricity and the Power of Technological Ambivalence. Athens: Ohio University Press.

Von Schnitzler, A. 2016. Democracy’s Infrastructure: Techno-Politics and Protest after Apartheid. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Beinart, W. and Dubow, S. 2021. The Scientific Imagination in South Africa: 1700 to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.