This essay presents the argument for a model of postcoloniality that disavows the axiomatic determinations of oppositionality. It presents a case,in the history of nascent African nationalism in South Africa, in which subject formation by Africans under late colonialism was framed in apparent complicity with prescribed forms of Western civility. The essay argues that conventional notions of postcolonial resistance are unable to provide an adequate explanation for identity politics which are based on thedesire for Western acculturation instead of resistance to it. By recourse to the idea of a “civil imaginary,” the essay offers an alternative framework for understanding the intermeshing processes of colonial subjectification and African nationalism in South Africa.

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