The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Being While Black

This is fundamentally a text about race and antiblack racism and their subsequent production of the problem of alienation (separation) of human beings from one another, from their bodies, and from themselves, globally, but with distinct and conscious focus on the historical context of apartheid and “post”-apartheid South Africa through the psychological lens of one of the country’s first and distinguished clinical psychologists, Noel Chabani Manganyi.

The book is a philosophically critical engagement with his work, and it constitutes, as it were, part of the author’s overarching project of attempting to reclaim and retrieve hitherto overlooked, ignored and invisibilised Black thinkers of the past and present. Although Manganyi has written over 10 books, the most important and popular being Being-Black-in-the-World (1973) and Alienation and the Body in Racist Society (1977), his ideas and work have, for one reason or another, been disregarded by mainstream South African psychology, let alone philosophy. The author foregrounds philosophy as also a culprit because Manganyi himself describes his work as that of “a psychologist who thinks and conceptualises psychological reality in a phenomenological way”.

Manganyi has the distinction of being the first Black clinical psychologist trained in South Africa as the title of his latest book, Apartheid and the Making of a Black Psychologist (2016) indicates. His body of published work reveals that from the beginning he has been involved in an attempt to contextualise his discipline, psychology, to the lived realities of his country, that is, apartheid racism and the alienation it produced on Black people. In other words, his main concern has been to utilise psychological discourse to address issues relevant to what can broadly be called “the Black lived-experience” in an antiblack racist society and their experience of the condition of alienation. As such he stood as a solitary figure whose voice was pushed to the margins of the psychological establishment, which was either silent about or complicit in the oppression of Blacks by the apartheid regime.

By exploring Manganyi’s serious concerns about apartheid racism and its attendant devastating production of alienation among Black people, the author argues that the problem of alienation produced by continuing rampant antiblack racism (even from the hands of a Black government) constitutes itself as a lingering problem of “post”-apartheid South Africa.

The author demonstrates that apartheid and alienation are not only conceptually synonymous but experientially related because what connects antiblack racism (apartheid) and alienation is the fact of our embodied existence in the world and that Black alienation manifests itself through the body. After all, antiblack racism is predicated on bodily appearance and body differences among human beings. Manganyi himself places a high premium on the body precisely because, in his view, the Black subjects have inherited a negative sociological schema of their black bodies as a result of which most of them experience themselves as somethings or objects outside of themselves, that is, alienated from themselves.

The value of revisiting Manganyi’s contribution can be underlined by reference to imperatives posed in recent incidents of antiblack racism and contemporary approaches to race and embodiment in disciplines such as philosophy (Black existentialism), psychology, sociology, cultural studies and identity politics.

This book's focus spans a wide variety of disciplines, including psychology, philosophy, political philosophy, critical race studies and post-colonialism, and therefore will be of interest to a broad cross-section of undergraduate and graduate students, scholars and activists.

Product information

Format : 210mm x 168mm
Pages : 312
ISBN 13 : 978-0-7961-1025-1
Publish Year : December 2023
Rights : World Rights


Chapter 1: The Psychologist-Philosopher

Chapter 2: The Philosopher-Psychologist

Chapter 3: The Concept of Alienation

Chapter 4: Apartheid and Alienation

Chapter 5: Black Thinkers and Alienation

Chapter 6: Being-Black-in-the-World

Chapter 7: The Black Body and Alienation

Chapter 8: Racism and Alienation

Chapter 9: Alienation Manifested

Chapter 10: Supersession of Alienation (Dis-alienation)

Chapter 11: Conclusion and Critique

Mabogo P. More is a retired professor of philosophy at the following institutions: University of the North, University of Durban-Westville, University of KwaZulu-Natal, and University of Limpopo. He is currently an Associate Researcher at the University of Limpopo and has over the years published over 50 journal articles, book chapters and three books, two of which are: Biko: Philosophy, Identity and Liberation. (2017: HSRC Press) and Looking Through Philosophy in Black. (2019: Rowman & Littlefield).

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