The Dis-eases of Secrecy

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English

“Dis-eases demonstrates how oppressive pasts can be engaged imaginatively rather than didactically. It is a seminal work for anyone committed to making ‘post-apartheid’ meaningful.” – Verne Harris, Director: Archive and Dialogue, Nelson Mandela Foundation Between 1981 and 1995, a top-secret chemical and biological warfare programme titled Project Coast was established and maintained by South Africa’s apartheid government. Under the leadership of Wouter Basson, Project Coast scientists were involved in a number of dubious activities, including the mass production of ecstasy, the development of covert assassination weapons and the manufacture of chemical poisons designed to be undetectable post-mortem. Dis-eases of Secrecy is a retrospective analysis of Project Coast and shows how South African governments (past and present) have chosen to deal with the issues of biochemical weapons and warfare. It investigates possibilities for understanding the world of politics by examining how Project Coast has been remembered – and, in some instances, forgotten – by African and international governments. Through their first-hand involvement in the investigation spanning over 20 years, the authors examine how the continuing silences, impunities and stories surrounding Project Coast are still relevant for political accountability today. Readers will engage with how what is hidden reveals, and what is revealed hides. In this cleverly constructed book, readers are able to choose their own journey through the story. By taking on the role of investigator, readers are faced with the complexities of transitional justice, reconciliation and scientist developments that might give them a different view of South African politics in an ever-changing world order.

English

Chandré Gould is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa. She investigated Project Coast for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She is the author of Secrets and Lies: Wouter Basson and South Africa’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme. Gould is a research associate at the Durban Institute of Technology. Brian Rappert is Professor of Science, Technology and Public Affairs in the Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Exeter. His previous books include How to Look Good in War.
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