SWOP is delighted that Jacob Dlamini won the monograph book award for Askari at the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) award ceremony earlier this month. Jacob Dlamini is a SWOP Research Associate based at Princeton University in the US. He will be joining us for a couple of months mid-year.
This is the citation that was read out at the award ceremony:
"This book acknowledges that the truth is a myth, but relentlessly pursues multiple and uncomfortable partial truths that illumine both the past and the complexities of the present. This is a bold exploration of a sensitive topic that is crucial to a more nuanced understanding of both the South African past and the volatile present. This is superbly written, stylishly structured and impressively integrates specific detail with more wide-ranging perspectives on the events and characters described.
Both the topic and its presentation which is both detached and personal, both scholarly and creative are highly original and even daring. The writer foregrounds his own narrative role and the difficulties of his task in frank and unsettling ways.
The book has considerable social relevance in that it explores a subject most readers would prefer to forget and demonstrates both its local significance and the way in which it is part of international and transhistorical patterns of collaboration, torture and power. This is a compulsively readable work that draws the reader to consider the way in which he or she may also have been complicit in collaboration. It undermines powerful communal myths and consistently avoids easy answers while making sense of partial or biased sources. It is finally a moving acknowledgement of the limits of scholarship itself while simultaneously affirming the importance of the academic endeavour."