Raymond Suttner, based in Johannesburg, is a scholar and a social and political analyst. He was actively involved in the liberation struggle against apartheid, both in legal political activities and illegal underground work. He served two periods of imprisonment and after release in 1988 was under house arrest, totalling 11 years.
At one point he was in the leadership of the African National Congress, South African Communist Party and the United Democratic Front. Currently he is in disagreement with the directions taken by the ANC/SACP alliance and the ANC-led government, for reasons that are addressed in this blog.
As a scholar Suttner has held positions at six South African universities. Currently he is a part-time professor at Rhodes University and emeritus professor at the University of South Africa.
Suttner holds BA, LLB degrees from the University of Cape Town and completed an inter-disciplinary PhD (history, sociology and political studies) at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2007 he was awarded a D.Litt Honoris causa from the Netaji Subhas Open University in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, for contribution to the development of higher education.
Suttner’s research interests include politics, history, sociology, gender and sexuality, law, criminology, questions related to identity and representation. He has published Inside Apartheid’s Prison, 2001 (UKZN press and Ocean Press, which was runner up for the Alan Paton prize), The ANC Underground, 2008 (Jacana, and 2009, Lynne Rienner). Together with Jeremy Cronin he wrote 30 Years of the Freedom Charter (Ravan Press and Ohio University Press, 1986), banned for possession by the apartheid government and 50 Years of the Freedom Charter, 2006 (UNISA Press). His latest book, Recovering Democracy in South Africa will be published by Jacana and Lynne Rienner early in 2015).
Apart from numerous articles in academic journals, Suttner presented the TB Davie Memorial Lecture at the University of Cape Town, in 1984, published as a booklet entitled, The Freedom Charter-the People’s Charter in the Nineteen Eighties. He also delivered the Harold Wolpe memorial lecture in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban in 2005, subsequently published in Development Southern Africa, leading to subsequent articles debating his ideas. His present research interest relate to interpreting Nelson Mandela, Chief Albert Luthuli-the meanings of his life and examining threats to South African democracy and possible emancipatory routes towards recovering and enhancing the democratic promise of 1994.
Currently Suttner writes a weekly column for Creamer Media’s website: polity.org.za and is interviewed twice weekly on video on current issues. These are found on the Polity website and YouTube. Almost all the articles are reprinted in the Daily Maverick and the Daily Dispatch (East London) and most of these appear in revised form in the new book, Recovering Democracy in South Africa, mentioned above.
Suttner is interested in music -western classical, Indian classical, choral music of various types, jazz, folk music, African American spirituals and songs of liberation struggles. He is interested in art and other cultural activities.
He follows a regular daily exercise ‘regime’ including aerobics, stretch exercises and mindfulness based meditation.
Suttner is married to social, cultural and political analyst,Nomboniso Gasa.
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