Power and the Prison: A Foucauldian Perspective on Herman Charles Bosman’s Cold Stone Jug and Willemsdorp
Keywords:prison, power, apartheid, brutality, Foucault
Although the political angle in Bosman’s writings as expressed in his language style are recognized, the prison writing as featured in his two late novels, Cold Stone Jug (1949) and Willemsdorp (written in 1951, first published posthumously in censored form in 1977 and in full in 1998), have received less scholarly attention, especially in terms of his political intent. The present study explores his preoccupation in these works with the brutality of the prison system and the power of the apartheid state. Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975/1995) was employed as a useful theoretical lens in examining Bosman’s critique of the prison system in South Africa and the abuse of power within it. An analysis of the details of police brutality and abuse of power in the censored and uncensored published versions of Willemsdorp has also been included, highlighting the applicability of Foucault’s theorisation on discipline and punishment in the penal system to Bosman’s texts. This study brings to the fore Bosman’s critique of the state, its officials, the unjust practices and the political intention behind his prison writing.
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