Cluster Publications is a non-profit publishing enterprise of the Pietermaritzburg Cluster of Theological Institutions (South Africa). The Cluster, founded in 1990, is an ecumenical partnership of the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa, the School of Religion and Theology of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and St Joseph’s Theological Institute. (A founding member pf the Cluser, the Federal Theological Seminary of South Africa, closed in 1992.) As soon as the Cluster began, plans were laid for a publications house.
Cluster Publications took shape under the leadership of Professor Jim Cochrane, Bernard Connor OP and Professor Gerald West in order to provide contextual theological books at affordable prices for South African scholars and students and their colleagues throughout Africa. The first years of Cluster Publications coincided with the last days of apartheid and some of the publications reflected that concern. It also published one of the very first African books of feminist theology, Women Hold up Half the Sky in 1991. Since 1994, the most important themes of South African life have been reflected in its publication list: contextual biblical hermeneutics, gender issues, HIV and AIDS, oral history, philosophical and ethical issues, significant figures in South African church history, and socio-political issues.
Cluster Publications is committed to producing books that are contextually relevant to African contexts and that are affordable for African readers. To date, Cluster Publications has published more than 130 books. The publishing house is managed by volunteers from each of the theological institutions that make up the Cluster in the Pietermaritzburg area, and a small administrative staff. Contextually relevant theological books, Cluster Publications believes, have a role to play in social transformation.