Thomas Blom Hansen a Finalist for the 2013 Herskovits Award

Thomas Blom Hansen - Melancholia of Freedom: Social Life in an Indian Township in South Africa
Finalist for the 2013 Melville J. Herskovits Award, African Studies Association

The African Studies Association presents the Herskovits Award to the author of the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English during the preceding year. The winner of the Herskovits Award is announced each year at the ASA Annual Meeting, where he or she receives an honorarium of $500.  The ceremony will take place in 2013 on November 23rd in Baltimore, MD.

For more information about the award, click here.

Melancholia of Freedom In this book, Thomas Blom Hansen offers an in-depth analysis of the uncertainties, dreams, and anxieties that have accompanied postapartheid freedoms in Chatsworth, a formerly Indian township in Durban. Exploring five decades of township life, Hansen tells the stories of ordinary Indians whose lives were racialized and framed by the township, and how these residents domesticated and inhabited this urban space and its institutions, during apartheid and after.

Hansen demonstrates the complex and ambivalent nature of ordinary township life. While the ideology of apartheid was widely rejected, its practical institutions, from urban planning to houses, schools, and religious spaces, were embraced in order to remake the community. Hansen describes how the racial segmentation of South African society still informs daily life, notions of race, personhood, morality, and religious ethics. He also demonstrates the force of global religious imaginings that promise a universal and inclusive community amid uncertain lives and futures in the postapartheid nation-state.

Thomas Blom Hansen is professor of anthropology and the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of South Asian Studies at Stanford University, where he also directs the Center for South Asia. His books include The Saffron Wave and Wages of Violence.