Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 303–331 | Cite as

The Politics of Ecology in South Africa on the Radical Left

  • Peder Anker


The South African ecologist and political activist Edward Roux (1903–1966) used evolutionary biology to argue against racism. During the cold-war, he transformed his communist beliefs into advocacy for scientific rationalism, management, and protection of nature against advancing capitalism. These pleas for saving the environment served as a vehicle for questioning the more risky issue of evolution and racial order in society. The link between ecological and political order had long been an important theme among the country's ecologists and politicians alike. The statesman Jan Christian Smuts' holistic theory of evolution and racial order inspired the nation's ecologists to sanctify an ecologically informed racial policy. This idealist informed methodology stood in direct opposition to the materialist approach to ecology of Roux. These methodological debates reflected differing political support from within the Union Party and people on the radical left, respectively. Ecology was of concern to politicians because understandings of the order of nature had direct implications for the racial order of the South African society.

communism Edward Roux History of ecology South Africa 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams, S. 2001. Comrade Minister. Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Anker, P. 2001. Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire, 1895-1945. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anonymous, 1946. “A Book which every South African should read” The Natal Witness March 11.Google Scholar
  4. — 1948a. “Yet another Account of the Black Man's Burden.” The Star. 13.Google Scholar
  5. — 1948b. “Changed Ideas.” Sunday Times Sept. 9.Google Scholar
  6. — 1948c. “Time longer than Rope.” The Listener Sept. 16.Google Scholar
  7. — 1948d. “Struggle of the Bantu.” News Review Sept. 2.Google Scholar
  8. — 1948e. “Topical Books.” Cape Times Sept. 24.Google Scholar
  9. — 1948f. “Case for the Prosecution.” Weekend Oct. 2.Google Scholar
  10. — 1959. “Scientist refused Passport.” Rand Daily Mail Aug. 5.Google Scholar
  11. — 1964a. “A South African Unperson.” Guardian Dec. 18.Google Scholar
  12. — 1964b. “S. African bans Professor.” The Yorkshire Post Dec. 17.Google Scholar
  13. -1964c. “90-Day Clause to be Suspended.” The Times Nov. 28.Google Scholar
  14. — 1964d. 'Professor banned.' The Glasgow Herald Dec. 17.Google Scholar
  15. — 1964e. “Dr. Edward Roux” editorial, Sunday Times Dec. 20.Google Scholar
  16. — 1964f. “Prof. MacCrone deplores Ban on Roux.” Sunday Times Dec. 20.Google Scholar
  17. — 1964g. “Professor Ban Protest.” Sulawayo Chronicle Dec. 25.Google Scholar
  18. — 1964h. “Roux Ban upsets Lecturers: Fear that it may scare off Recruits.” Priend Bloemfontein Dec. 25.Google Scholar
  19. — 1964i. “Banning Orders on Prof.” Natal Mercury Dec. 17.Google Scholar
  20. — 1964j. “Roux's Banning condemned by Wits SRC.” Rand Daily MailDec. 21.Google Scholar
  21. — 1964k. “Time longer than Rope.” International Review of Social History No. 3.Google Scholar
  22. — 1964l. “Time longer than Rope.” The Book Exchange Sept.Google Scholar
  23. — 1964m. “Time longer than Rope.” The Personal Book Guide June.Google Scholar
  24. — 1965a. “Banning Plea.” Rand Daily Mail March 23.Google Scholar
  25. — 1965b. “'Monumental Work' on Trees: Science Body's Plea for Roux.” Pretoria News March 22.Google Scholar
  26. —1965c. “Irish Protest at Banning of South Africa Professors.” Rand Daily Mail Nov. 12.Google Scholar
  27. — 1965d. “Honour for banned Professor.” The Star Nov. 3.Google Scholar
  28. — 1965e. “Professor in Exile: Eddie Roux.” Wits Student Jan. 2.Google Scholar
  29. — 1965f. “Roux: Scientists' plea to Vorster.” Sunday Times March 21Google Scholar
  30. — 1965g. “Wits plans big Protest against Roux Ban.” Rand Daily Mail March 13Google Scholar
  31. — 1965h. “Big Wits protest on Banning of Roux.” Sunday Times March 14.Google Scholar
  32. — 1965i. “Time longer than Rope.” The Faculty Journal Nov.Google Scholar
  33. — 1965j. “Time longer than Rope.” Choice 1. no. 2.Google Scholar
  34. — 1965k. “Time longer than Rope.” Revue Francaise de Science Politique Dec.Google Scholar
  35. — 1965l; “Time longer than Rope.” International Affairs Oct.Google Scholar
  36. — 1966. “Time longer than Rope.” Amnesty International Nov.Google Scholar
  37. — 1967. “Time longer than Rope.” Lake Charles American Press Nov. 18.Google Scholar
  38. — 1968. “Time longer than Rope.” The Book Exchange May.Google Scholar
  39. — 1969. “Grass: A Story of Frankenwald.” The Rationalist Sept.Google Scholar
  40. — 1981. South African Communists Speak. London: Inkululeko.Google Scholar
  41. Armstrong, Harold Courtenay. 1937. Grey Steel: J.C. Smuts: A Study in Arrogance. London: Arthur Barker.Google Scholar
  42. B., H. 1969. “Grass Roots of Life.” The Cape Argues Oct.Google Scholar
  43. Beinart, William 1989. “The Politics of Colonial Conservation.” Journal of Southern African Studies 15: 143–162.Google Scholar
  44. Beinart, William and Coates, Peter. 1995. Environment and History: The Taming of Nature in USA and South Africa. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Bews, John W. 1931. “The Ecological Viewpoint.” South African Journal of Science 28: 1–15Google Scholar
  46. — 1935. Human Ecology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. — 1937. Life as a Whole. London: Longmans.Google Scholar
  48. Blackman, Frederick F., Blackman, Vernon H., Keeble, Frederick, Oliver, Francis W., and Tansley, Arthur G. 1917. “The Reconstruction of Elementary Botanical Teaching.” New Phytologist 16: 241–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Blood, Hillary 1965. “Time longer than Rope.” African Affairs 64: 53 Boney, Arthur D. 1991. “The 'Tansley Manifesto' Affair.” New Phytologist 118: 3-21.Google Scholar
  50. Bower, Frederick O. 1918. “Botanical Bolshevism.” New Phytologist 17: 106, 107.Google Scholar
  51. Briggs, George E. 1948. “Frederick Frost Blackman.” Obituary Notices of the Fellows of the Royal Society 5: 651–657.Google Scholar
  52. Bunting, Brian 1975. Moses Kotane. London: Inkululeko.Google Scholar
  53. Campell, James T. 1998. “Romantic Revolutionaries.” Journal of African History 39: 313–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Cronin, Jeremy 1991. “Origins and Native Republic.” in Colin Bundy ed., The History of the South African Communist Party. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Department of Adult Education.Google Scholar
  55. Curry, Herbert F. 1965. “Time longer than Rope.” The Historian 27: 270.Google Scholar
  56. D'Ewes, Dudley 1969. “Let Plants and the Soil talk to you.” Cape Times Nov. 29.Google Scholar
  57. Divine, David 1948. “Black and White in South Africa.” Sunday Times August 29.Google Scholar
  58. Donen, Izak and Roux, Edward 1939. “The Role of Sorbitol in the C-metabolism of the Kelsey Plum.” Biochemical Journal 33: 1947-1956.Google Scholar
  59. Dovers, Stephen, Edgecombe, Ruth and Guest, Bill (eds.). 2002. South Africa's Environmental History. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Dubow, Saul 1995. Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Eybers, E. 1969. “Grass: A Story of Frankenwald.” The Rationalist Oct. 2.Google Scholar
  62. F., M. 1964. “History with a Difference.” Eastern Province Herald Aug. 12.Google Scholar
  63. H., J. F. 1948. “Time longer than Rope.” Empire Oct., 11.Google Scholar
  64. Haldane, J. B. S. 1929. “The Origin of Life.” The Rationalist Annual: 3–10.Google Scholar
  65. Hogben, Lancelot 1930. The Nature of Living Matter. London: Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner & Co.Google Scholar
  66. Huxley, Jian and Haddon, A. C. With a Contribution from Morris Carr-Saunders, Alexander. 1935. We Europeans: A Survey of 'Racial' Problems. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  67. Johns, Sheridan 1995. Raising the Red Flag. Bellville, South Africa: Mayibuye Books.Google Scholar
  68. Jong, K. and Roux, Edward 1955. “A further Investigation of the Nitrogen Sensitivity of Veld Grasses.” South African Journal of Science 52: 27–28.Google Scholar
  69. Khan, Farieda 1994. “Kumalo's Cattle.” Veld and Flora Sept.: 81–83.Google Scholar
  70. Kolbe, Frederick Colin 1928. A Catholic View of Holism. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  71. L., F. 1966. “Freedom.” The Birmingham Post Jan. 6.Google Scholar
  72. Lerumo, A. 1971. Fifty Fighting Years. London: Inkululeko.Google Scholar
  73. Lewin, Julius 1965. “Two Professors must live like Hermits.” The Star Jan. 1.Google Scholar
  74. Lovell, Colin R. 1965. “Time longer than Rope.” American Historical Review 70: 786–787.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. M., N. 1943. “Harvest and Health in South Africa.” African Studies 2: 221.Google Scholar
  76. Mader, Heather 1965. “Brilliant but banned Prof. Roux carries on Research.” Sunday Times Nov. 28.Google Scholar
  77. Marx, Anthony W. 1997. Making Race and Nation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  78. Molteno, C. J., Rapson, W. S., Roux, E., Schwartz, H. M., and van Rensburg, N. J. 1945. “South African Fish Products: The Liver Oils of some Elasmo-branch Fishes of South African Waters.” Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, 172–177, 281-284.Google Scholar
  79. Murray, Bruce K. 1997. Wits: The 'Open' Years. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University.Google Scholar
  80. N., 1970. “Time longer than Rope.” Long Beach Press-Telegram, May 6.Google Scholar
  81. O., T. 1948. “The Story of a Struggle.” Forum, Oct. 9.Google Scholar
  82. Ogden, C. K. 1935.The ABC of Basic English.London: Paul, Trench, Trubner.Google Scholar
  83. Oxley, E. R. B. 1971. “Grass: A story of Frankewald.” Journal of Ecology 59: 309–310.Google Scholar
  84. Paterson, V. and Roux, E. 1949. “The Effect of Benzene Hexachloride and Inositol on the Growth and Respiration of Baker's Yeast.” The South African Industrial Chemist Aug.: 143–144.Google Scholar
  85. Phillips, John 1931. “The Biotic Community.” Journal of Ecology 19: 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. — 1932. “Man at the Cross-Roads.” Anonymous (ed.), In Our Changing World-View. Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand Press, pp. 51–70.Google Scholar
  87. — 1959. Agriculture and Ecology in Africa. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  88. — 1960. Kwame Nkrumah and the Future of Africa. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  89. — 1961. The Development of Agriculture and Forestry in the Tropics. New York: Frederick A Praeger.Google Scholar
  90. Phillips, John, Hammond, John, Samuels, L. H. and Swynnerton, R. J. M. 1962. The Development of the Economic Resources of Southern Rhodesia. Salisbury: Mardon Rhodesian Printers.Google Scholar
  91. Pogrund, Benjamin 1964. “Govt. slaps Total Ban on Top Scientist.” Rand Daily Mail Dec. 17.Google Scholar
  92. R., T.C. 1970. “Philosophers in the Purple Veld.” Veldtrust Winter: 26–27.Google Scholar
  93. Reynolds, A. and Hughes, E. J. 1976. The Historian as Diplomat. London: Martin Robertson.Google Scholar
  94. Roth, Mia 2000. “Eddie, Brian, Jack and let's Phone Rusty: Is this the History of the Communist Party of South Africa 1921-1950?” South African Historical Journal 42: 191–209.Google Scholar
  95. Roux, Edward 1929. “Observations on Marsilia Macrocarpa Presl.” South African Journal of Science 26: 311–317.Google Scholar
  96. — 1937a. “A Combustible Soil from the Witwatersrand.” South African Journal of Science 33: 337–342.Google Scholar
  97. — 1937b. The Mayibuye Reader. Cape Town: The African Defender.Google Scholar
  98. — 1940. “A Form of Low-Temperature Injury in Detached Leaves.” The New Phytologist 39: 271–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. — 1942a. Education Through Reading. Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations.Google Scholar
  100. — 1942b.“Easy English for Africans.” African Studies 1: 261–265.Google Scholar
  101. — 1942c. Education Through Reading. Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations.Google Scholar
  102. — 1942d. Harvest and Health in Africa. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.Google Scholar
  103. — 1944a. Reprint 1993. S. Bunting: A Political Biography. Belleville: MayibuyeGoogle Scholar
  104. —1944b. The Native Reserves and Post-War Reconstruction. Cape Town: Association of Scientific Workers of Southern Africa.Google Scholar
  105. — 1944c. The Easy English Handbook. Publisher unknown.Google Scholar
  106. — 1945. The How and Why of Science. Cape Town: The African Bookman.Google Scholar
  107. — 1946. The Veld and the Future. Cape Town: The African Bookman.Google Scholar
  108. — 1947a. “The Growth Rate of the Cape Hake or Stockfish.” South African Science 1: 2.Google Scholar
  109. — 1947b. “Hake Catch Data from the West Ground.” South African Science 2: 144–147.Google Scholar
  110. — 1948. Time Longer than Rope: A History of the Black Man's Struggle for Freedom in South Africa. Johannesburg: Gollancz.Google Scholar
  111. — 1949a. “Respiration and Maturity in Peaches and Plums.” Annals of Botany: New Series 4: 317–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  112. — 1949b. “Migrations of the Cape Hake or Stockfish on the West Coast of South Africa.” Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 32: 217–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  113. — 1949c. James Mabeta Goes to Sea. Johannesburg: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons.Google Scholar
  114. — 1950. “Interspecific Plant Hybrids.” South African Journal of Science 47: 67–73.Google Scholar
  115. — 1951a. “Selective Herbicides.” The South African Industrial Chemist Aug. 158, 160.Google Scholar
  116. — 1951b. Botany for Medical Students. Johannesburg: Juta & Co.Google Scholar
  117. —1953a. “The Effect of Antibiotics produced.” South African Journal of Science June. 334.Google Scholar
  118. — 1953b. “A Preliminary Account of 'Glossy End' in Potatoes.” Farming in South Africa Oct. 341–344.Google Scholar
  119. — 1954a. “The Nitrogen Sensitivity of eragrpstis curvula and trachypogon plumosus in relation to Grassland Succession.” South African Journal of Science Feb. 173–176.Google Scholar
  120. — 1954b. “The Rabbit in Australia.” Fighting Talk Jan. 11.Google Scholar
  121. — 1954c. “Race and Intelligence.” Fighting Talk Feb. 12–14.Google Scholar
  122. — 1956. “Photosynthesis.” South African Journal of Science 52: 234–238.Google Scholar
  123. — 1957. “Strange Argument from South Africa.” The Truth Seeker Feb. 58.Google Scholar
  124. — 1958. “The Darwin-Wallace Century.” The Freethinker July. 225–226Google Scholar
  125. — 1959a. “The Expanding Universe.” Fighting Talk Feb. 14.Google Scholar
  126. — 1959b. “Life on other Worlds.” Fighting Talk March. 14.Google Scholar
  127. — 1959c. “Man's Ancestors.” Fighting Talk May. 14.Google Scholar
  128. — 1959d. “The 'How' of Evolution.” Fighting Talk July. 15.Google Scholar
  129. — 1959e. “Dating the Past.” Fighting Talk Aug. 15.Google Scholar
  130. — 1959f. “Radioactivity: Its Dangers and Uses.” Fighting Talk Sept. 15.Google Scholar
  131. — 1959g. “Is there Anything in Telepathy?” Fighting Talk Dec. 15.Google Scholar
  132. — 1959h. “The Origin of Life.” Fighting Talk April. 15.Google Scholar
  133. — 1961a. A First Year Plant Physiology. Johannesburg: Juta & Col.Google Scholar
  134. — 1961b. “History of the Introduction of Australian Acacias on the Cape Flats.” South African Journal of Science 57: 99–102Google Scholar
  135. — 1962. “Most Food for Most People.” The New African July. 2.Google Scholar
  136. — 1963. “The Australian Acadias in South Africa.” Ecological Studies in Southern Africa 14: 137–141.Google Scholar
  137. — 1964a Time Longer Than Rope: A History of the Black Man's Struggle for Freedom in South Africa. Second edition. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  138. — 1964b. “Rhizobal Nitrogen Fixation.” South African Journal of Science July. 203–204.Google Scholar
  139. —1965. “Salt Tolerance in Four Invasive Exotic Acadias of the Cape Peninsula.” South African Journal of Science Dec. 438.Google Scholar
  140. — 1969. Grass: A Story of Frankenwald. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  141. — 1970. “Plant Succession on Iron Age I Sites at Melville Koppies Johannesburg.” South African Journal of Science 66: 48–50.Google Scholar
  142. Roux, Edward, and Middlemiss, E. 1963. “Studies in the Autoecology of the Australian Acacias in South Africa.” South African Journal of Science 59: 286–293.Google Scholar
  143. Roux, Edward and Roux, Winifred 1970. Rebel Pity: The Life of Eddie Roux. London: Rex Collings.Google Scholar
  144. Roux, Edward and Warren, Margaret 1963. “Plant Succession on Abandoned Fields in Central Oklahoma and in the Transvaal Highveld.” Ecology 44: 576–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  145. S., J.D. 1969. “Pasture Ecology.” Natal Witness Oct. 24.Google Scholar
  146. Sapa, undated. “Roux Banning Protest by Rand Lecturers' Association,” Eastern Province Herald, AU8, 5.6, WUA.Google Scholar
  147. Schirmer, Peter 1964. “Bannings may force Roux out of S.A.” Sunday Times Dec. 20.Google Scholar
  148. Sharp, Lee A. 1972. “Grass: A Story of Frankenwald.” Journal of Range Management 25: 158–159.Google Scholar
  149. Shear, Mervym 1996. Wits: A University in the Apartheid Era, Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.Google Scholar
  150. Smuts, Jan C. 1893. “Law, A Liberal Study.” Christ's College Magazine reprinted in Van der Poel, 1973, 1: 35–41.Google Scholar
  151. — 1925. “South Africa in Science.” South African Journal of Science 22: 1.Google Scholar
  152. — 1926. Holism and Evolution. London: Macmillian.Google Scholar
  153. Tilley, Helen 2001. Africa as a 'Living Laboratory. Ph.D. Thesis. Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  154. Tulloch, Courtehay 1964. “A Fight to Death.” Labor's Independent Weekly Tribune Sept. 11Google Scholar
  155. Van der Poel, Jean (ed.). 1973. Selections from the Smuts Papers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  156. Vigne, Randolph 1997. Liberals against Apartheid. New York: St. Martin's Press.Google Scholar
  157. W., O. 1948. “Tread Softly the Crust is Thin.” Commonsense Nov.Google Scholar
  158. Weiner, Douglas 1999. A Little Corner of Freedom. Berkley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  159. Wells, George P. 1978. “Lancelot Thomas Hogben.” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 24: 183–221.Google Scholar
  160. Wells, Herbert G. 1922. A Short History of the World. New York: Macmillian.Google Scholar
  161. Wilde, Oscar 1969. “Countryman's Diary.” Radio, The South African Broadcasting Corporation undated [1969].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peder Anker
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Development and the EnvironmentUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations