Racialised ethnicities and ethnicised races: reflections on the making of South Africanism

Posted in Africa, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-07-09 00:06Z by Steven

Racialised ethnicities and ethnicised races: reflections on the making of South Africanism

African Identities
Published online: 2012-06-21
DOI: 10.1080/14725843.2012.692550

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Professor in the Department of Development Studies
University of South Africa

This article discusses how the politics of South African identity-making continues to be spoiled by racialised and ethnicised identities cascading from colonialism and apartheid. These problematic identities continue to live on, raising sensitive issues of nativity versus settlerism as well as rights versus entitlement to resources. Identity issues cannot be understood without a clear historical analysis of politics of translating a geographical expression into a national identity that dates back to colonial encounters. The article unpacks complex nationalisms, namely Anglicisation, Afrikanerisation, and Africanisation, that operated as ID-ologies, i.e. identitarian quests for a shared identity, albeit mediated by notions of whiteness and blackness. These ID-ologies became sites of struggles mediated by vicissitudes of inclusions and exclusions. The question of who was the subject of liberation, who constitutes the ‘authentic’ subject of the nation, and who is entitled to resources such as land and mines remain contested. Whites use the constitution to claim rights and to maintain the status quo of privilege, whereas Africans try to mobilise notions of both rights and entitlements as part of the redress of past and present exclusions.

Introduction

This article traces the problematics of the idea of South Africa with a view to enlighten the current questions of belonging, citizenship, and ownership of resources rocking the country. It is a historical study that explores changing translations of a geographical expression into an identity of a people. The historical analysis slices right through the imperial and colonial encounters of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, right up to the present constructions of the ‘rainbow nation’. The main proposition of the article is thay South African national identity is, if not a failing national project, at least very much a contested work in progress, which is open to different interpretations and trajectories. This proposition is given credence by the fact that racialised and ethnicised identities formed under imperialism, colonialism, and apartheid continue to hang like a nightmare on the body politic of the rainbow nation, refusing to die. and continuing to throw up toxic questions around issues of belonging, citizenship, entitlement and ownership of resources like land and mines…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Parading Respectability: An Ethnography of the Christmas Bands movement in the Western Cape, South Africa

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Dissertations, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, South Africa on 2012-07-08 14:31Z by Steven

Parading Respectability: An Ethnography of the Christmas Bands movement in the Western Cape, South Africa

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
May 2012
238 pages

Sylvia R. Bruinders


The Christmas Bands march through Adderley Street late at night during the “festive season” in Cape Town, 2001.
Picture by Henry Trotter. The author releases it to the public domain.

A Dissertation Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology

In this dissertation I investigate the Christmas Bands Movement of the Western Cape of South Africa. I document this centuries-old expressive practice of ushering in the joy of Christmas through music by way of a social history of the colored communities. The term colored is a local racialized designation for people of mixed descent–often perceived as of mixed-race by the segregationist and apartheid ideologues. In the complexity of race relations in South Africa these communities have emerged largely within the black/white interstices and remained marginal to the socio-cultural and political landscape. Their ancestral area is the Western Cape where most still live and where several of their expressive practices can be witnessed over the festive season in the summer months from December through March. The Christmas Bands Movement is one of three parading practices that are active during this period.

Drawing on Foucault’s notion of “embodied subjectivity” and Butler’s work on gender and performativity, I explore three main themes, two of which are overlapping, throughout this dissertation. First, I investigate how the bands constitute themselves as respectable members of society through disciplinary routines, uniform dress, and military gestures. Second, I show how the band members constitute their subjectivity both individually as a member and collectively as a band; each has a mutual impact on the other. Even though the notion of subjectivity is more concerned with the inner thoughts and experiences and their concern with respectability is an outward manifestation of a social ideal, these two themes overlap as both relate to how the members constitute themselves. Third, I explore how the emergent gender politics, given renewed emphasis in the new South African constitution (1995) has played out in local expressive practices through the women’s insistence on being an integral part of the performance activities of the Christmas Bands Movement. Their acceptance into the Christmas Bands has transformed the historically gendered perception of the bands as male-only expressive forms. Furthermore, I will illustrate how this cultural practice has gained in popularity during the last seventeen years of democratic rule in South Africa, which may suggest that the historical marginality of the communities is still very present.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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‘Non-racialism’ in the struggle against apartheid

Posted in Africa, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-05-15 00:17Z by Steven

‘Non-racialism’ in the struggle against apartheid

South African Review of Sociology (originally Society in Transition)
Volume 34, Issue 1 (2003)
pages 13-37
DOI: 10.1080/21528586.2003.10419082

Gerhard Maré, Professor of Sociology
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

This article examines the movement of South African society from a racialised past to a racialised present. It argues that an important opportunity, arising out of the transitional conjuncture, seriously to come to grips with the racist and racialised categories of apartheid, is rapidly being lost. Racism and a racially-ordered system is founded on the soft bed(rock) of race-thinking, and continues to draw on the banal perpetuation of notions of race in everyday life, as well as in political practice in a democratic South Africa. The author proposes that the undoubted commitment of the African National Congress to ‘non-racialism’ has remained unrealisable because there was no serious theoretical investigation of the status of race categories, either how they operated within apartheid South Africa or within the struggle for democracy itself. For this reason, it seems clear that the ANC’s ‘non-racialism’ more appropriately should be read as ‘non-racism’, as the notion of the existence of ‘races’ as socially meaningful categories have remained pivotal political categories and continue to operate as everyday common sense.

…In this paper I focus on the commitment to ‘non-racialism’ by the ANC, a commitment called the ‘unbreakable thread’ of decades of struggle against white domination (Frederikse 1990), and note some other positions and organisations. I will, in effect, take issue with the application of the term ‘non-racialism’ to describe the position of the ANC, which is much more accurately termed multi-racialism, despite Tambo’s rejection of such an interpretation. In conclusion I will suggest some of the implications of such misuse, most importantly that it cannot be the basis for ‘the primary goal [of] a completely restructured society’ (Frederikse, 1990:3-4).

Race thinking is embedded in our everyday thinking. It is located in racialised social identities, lived through what has been variously referred to as ‘stories of everyday life’(Wright, 1985:15; Heller, 1982), the ‘minutiae of everyday existence’ (Comaroff, 1996:166), the ‘banality’ of living within the ‘assumptions and common-sense habits’ (Billig, 1995:37) of a society permeated with race thinking. Such racialism will have to be disembedded from there, through deliberate social practice, institutional and legal change, and finding ways of subverting, rather than corroborating, daily experience and racialised ways of making sense. We continue to operate with race as a collective identity, and as the articulating and organising principle for other identities and/or moments when we draw on an array of alternate identities. Non-racialism remains without content if it continues to be a largely unexamined rhetorical commitment to an ideal.

At the same time, however, it is necessary immediately to note that my argument does not deny, in any way, the extreme dehumanisation and domination suffered under the system of apartheid, or under any racist system. Nor does it deny, as should be clear, that race thinking is located in real social conditions, and effectively makes sense of the way in which people have experienced, and continue to experience, that social reality, within a changing pattern of domination. It does not explore, here, the various ways in which race thinking serves, at times justificatory, exploitative, and other purposes. On the contrary, my argument depends on recognising the strength of pervasive racialisms, and demands and forms the basis for investigating racism. I will return to this point…

Read the entire article here.

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The ambivalence of authority and secret lives of tears: transracial child placements and the historical development of South African Law

Posted in Africa, History, Law, Media Archive, South Africa on 2012-05-08 01:20Z by Steven

The ambivalence of authority and secret lives of tears: transracial child placements and the historical development of South African Law

Journal of Southern African Studies
Volume 18, Issue 2, (June 1992)
pages 372-404
DOI: 10.1080/03057079208708319

Frederick Noel Zaal, Professor of Law
University of Kwazulu-Natal

The negative attitudes towards racially mixed familial groups which underlay many mid‐twentieth century South African statutes had deep historical roots. Early in the seventeenth century it became fashionable for Dutch travellers to write memoirs in which they routinely condemned the effects of transracial sexual relationships which they had witnessed in the colonies of other nations and in which they ascribed witch-like powers to women of colour who consorted with Europeans. The pessimistic mythology about miscegenation that was thus begun affected policy makers when the Dutch East India Company subsequently began to establish the first Dutch colonies in the East Indies. Both in the Indies and at the small Dutch colony in South Africa, uncomfortable tensions resulted because of the fears and racial prejudice engendered by this mythology in the face of a contrary need to assimilate the offspring of miscegenation. In South Africa the legal mechanisms which the Dutch East India Company had developed to cater for this need were forgotten by the late nineteenth century. However, the mythology about the undesirability of racially mixed familial groups lived on into the twentieth century. As the century progressed, it resulted in an erosion of the legal status and rights of children whose parents were given different population group classifications by a government which steadily increased the number of such groups. During the period 1960–1990 there was a series of governmental attempts to prevent the artificial creation of mixed familial groups by prohibiting transracial adoptions. The legislation which was designed for this purpose remained ambiguously worded because modern Western notions about the rights and vulnerability of children compelled a covert approach. In the early 1990s, as the white minority fears for its future, there has been an unwitting return to the kind of selectively acquisitive child placement strategies once utilized by the Dutch East India Company.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Challenging Certain Aspects of Intergroup Relations in “The Shaping of South African Society, 1652 – 1840″: A Review Article

Posted in Africa, History, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-05-08 00:58Z by Steven

Challenging Certain Aspects of Intergroup Relations in “The Shaping of South African Society, 1652 – 1840″: A Review Article

Kronos
Number 17 (1990)
pages 71-76

Hans Heese, University Archivist
Stellenbosch University

When the first edition of “The Shaping of South African Society 1652-1820″, dealing with the integration of southern Africa into a world economy and the domination of whites over blacks, was published in 1979, it filled a need which was increasingly being felt in South African historiography. In its introduction the authors stated that they wanted to “redress” the imbalance created by previous, Eurocentric historiography which has given “inadequate attention to non-Europeans: in this case the slaves, Khoikhoi, Khoisan hunter-gatherers, Bantu-speakers, free blacks and persons of mixed descent”

The volume consisted of four parts: the first part covered the major population groups, the second the rulers and the ruled, the third the expansion of the colony and its frontiers, and in the last part Elphick and Giliomee reviewed the development of social stratification over the whole period.

The other contributors were Armstrong, Freund, Guelke, Legassick, Schutte and Shell who had all done prolonged research in the various archives of South Africa, the Netherlands and Great Britain. With the exception of Legassick, all of them represent the “liberal” school — as opposed to the “radical” school.

In 1982 an Afrikaans translation, ’n Samelewing in Wording: Suid-Afrika 1652-1820, was published. Both versions were used as textbooks at undergraduate and postgraduate level at South African universities.

In 1989 a second edition was published under the title The Shaping of South African Society, 1652-1849. The new edition contained two new chapters—one on the Cape economy and the other on the Cape under the British, 1814-1834. The chapters on the Khoisan and Slaves had been extensively revised and extended to cover the period up to the 1830′s, both with the help of Malherbe and Worden as co-authors respectively. The authors of these two additional chapters—the one on the Cape economy and the other on the British at the Cape—were Robert Ross and Jeff Peires. Giliomee incorporated his earlier chapter on the burgher rebellions (1795-1815) from the 1979 edition in his contribution on the Eastern Frontier in the second edition…

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Between black and white: Rethinking Coloured identity

Posted in Africa, Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Philosophy, South Africa on 2012-03-13 01:15Z by Steven

Between black and white: Rethinking Coloured identity

African Identities
Volume 1, Issue 2 (2003)
pages 253-280
DOI: 10.1080/1472584032000173139

Pal Ahluwalia, Pro Vice Chancellor of Education, Arts and Social Sciences
University of South Australia

Abebe Zegeye
Goldsmiths College, University of London

Identity who we are, where we come from, what we are is difficult to maintain … we are the ‘other’, an opposite, a flaw in the geometry of resettlement, an exodus. (Said 1986: 16 17)

The photographs

Stephen Greenblatt offers two models for the exhibition of works of art resonance and wonder. Resonance, he argues, equates with the ‘power of the displayed object to reach out beyond its formal boundaries to a larger world, to evoke in the viewer the complex, dynamic cultural forces from which it has emerged and for which it may be taken by a viewer to stand’ (Greenblatt 1991: 42). Clearly a work of art that evokes such resonance creates its own context albeit that it is far removed from its original site. In contrast, by wonder, he means, ‘the power of the displayed object to stop the viewer in his or her tracks, to convey an arresting sense of uniqueness, to evoke an exalted attention’ (ibid.).

Greenblatt argues that what has increasingly happened in the practice of mounting exhibitions is the triumph of resonance over wonder. For an exhibition to have maximum impact, he argues (ibid.: 54), it is important that there should be ‘a strong initial appeal to wonder, a wonder that then leads to the desire for resonance, for it is generally easier in our culture to pass from wonder to resonance than from resonance to wonder’. It is in this context that we urge readers to make acquaintance with Chris Ledochowski’s photographs. First and foremost, they are works of art that evoke wonder. These works of art, however, are deeply resonant with the racial quagmire that has dominated and continues to dominate   South Africa’s culture, history and politics…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Not Tainted by the Past: Re-conceptualization and Politics of Coloured Identities among University Coloured Student Activists in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Posted in Africa, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, South Africa on 2012-03-12 02:46Z by Steven

Not Tainted by the Past: Re-conceptualization and Politics of Coloured Identities among University Coloured Student Activists in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Achieving Sustainable Development in Africa
International Conference at the University of Pittsburgh
2012-03-29 through 2012-03-30

Sardana Nikolaeva
School of Education
University of Pittsburgh

The colonial apartheid South Africa, its hierarchical racial classification and its consequences have garnered a lot of interest from scholars in a number of disciplines. Coloured identities, previously shaped as a single racialized categorical identity of a diverse group of “mixed race” people by the particular racist discourse of colonial and apartheid South Africa, currently needs to be re-conceptualized as heterogeneous and constructed by complex networks of relations and practices in specific historical, social, and political contexts. This research project examines how coloured students’ identities are formulated, contested and negotiated within a specific student activism context in a post-apartheid higher education terrain. In this sense, involvement in student activities of undergraduate and graduate students, who self-identify as of coloured identities, is interpreted as a productive resource and a site of identity articulation, contestation, and negotiation, evolving around locally embedded social, economic, cultural, and political issues. I firmly believe that there is a need of research of post-apartheid youth identity politics, particularly among coloured youth, one of the most disenfranchised, discriminated, and socio-politically-, economically-, and culturally-marginalized groups in South Africa. On a broader level, the research findings might shed light on the specifics of the minority group politics (coloured/colouredness politics) within post-1994 South Africa as a multi-racial and multi-ethnic state.

For more information, click here.

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Not White Enough, Not Black Enough

Posted in Africa, Articles, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, South Africa on 2012-02-15 19:56Z by Steven

Not White Enough, Not Black Enough

International Herald Tribune (The Global Edition of the New York Times)
2012-02-15

Eusebius McKaiser, political Analyst
Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – A few weeks ago, a British friend of mine served a sumptuous confession as a starter for dinner, “I only realized recently that you’re not actually black!” We had met several years back in the English midlands, where, judging by her remark, I had passed as black. But now that she has lived in South Africa for a few months, she is fluent in the local racial vocabulary: things are not quite black and white.

Let me explain. In South Africa I’m referred to as “colored,” a term that does not have the same derogatory denotation here as it does in the United States when it is hurled at black Americans. I am not black. I am of mixed racial heritage, as my parents are and their parents were.
 
When racist colonial settlers arrived at the southern tip of Africa during the 17th century, their racism did not preclude sexual relations with the locals. Several generations later, the colored community is ostensibly an ethnic group just like the Xhosas or the Zulus or any of the other myriad groupings within South Africa’s borders. It makes up  9 percent of the country’s population of 50.6 million.

…The lack of adequate economic opportunity for coloreds since the dawn of democracy here — combined with their lingering, paralyzing sense of victimhood — explains why the colored community is the most class-homogenous racial grouping in South Africa: an essentially poor, lower-working-class community. Very few of its members escape that stereotype.

In the Western Cape, the province with the largest concentration of colored people in the country, rates of fetal alcohol syndrome are some of the worst in the world. This community is like the drunken uncle of the South African family, the relative you tuck away when posh visitors come around. Paradoxically, many more colored people are worse off than black Africans now than were during apartheid…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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Black, yellow, (honorary) white or just plain South African?: Chinese South Africans, identity and affirmative action

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-02-06 22:52Z by Steven

Black, yellow, (honorary) white or just plain South African?: Chinese South Africans, identity and affirmative action

Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa
Number 77 (2011)
pages 107-121
DOI: 10.1353/trn.2011.0043

Yoon Jung Park, Senior Researcher in the Centre for Sociological Research
Humanities Research Village
University of Johannesburg

On 18 June 2008, while the country was still reeling from outbreaks of xenophobic violence, the Pretoria High Court issued an order proclaiming that the Chinese South Africans fall within the broad definition of ‘black people’ as contained in the nation’s affirmative action policies. Reaction to the decision was swift, angry and overwhelmingly negative; across the board, South Africans were in disbelief that the Chinese South Africans could be viewed as ‘black’. In this essay the author, a Korean American long resident in South Africa, addresses concerns about affirmative action and argues that these race-based policies are re-racialising the country. Chinese South Africans have long held an ambiguous, confused, in-between position in South Africa. In light of continuing new Chinese migration to the country, the global rise of China and its growing influence on South Africa’s economy and polity, the place and position of Chinese South Africans is further confused. Seen through the lens of the Chinese South African case, affirmative action policies impede progress toward building an inclusive, racially diverse national identity. So long as rewards are doled out solely on the basis of blackness, and blackness increasingly becomes the principal defining characteristic of South Africanness, South Africa fails to construct a national identity that reflects its history and its diversity.

Read or purchase the article here.

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A Matter Of Honour: Being Chinese in South Africa

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-02-06 22:32Z by Steven

A Matter Of Honour: Being Chinese in South Africa

Jacana Media
2008
256 pages
235 x 155mm
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-77009-568-7

Yoon Jung Park, Senior Researcher in the Centre for Sociological Research
Humanities Research Village
University of Johannesburg

The South African-born Chinese community is a tiny one, consisting of 10,000 to 12,000 members in a population of approximately 45 million. Throughout much of the history of this most race-conscious country, the community has been ignored or neglected, and officially classed along with Coloureds (people of mixed race) or with Indians in that particularly South African category of ‘Asiatic’.
 
More recently, as China’s aid, trade and investment in Africa grow and large numbers of new Chinese immigrants stream into South Africa and other African states, Chinese South Africans are beginning to receive both media and scholarly attention. For this reason it is timely to focus on the only resident community of Chinese on the continent.
 
This book, based on a PhD thesis, focuses on Chinese South Africans by examining their shifting social, ethnic, racial and national identities over time. Using concepts of identity, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and transnationalism, and drawing on comparisons with other overseas Chinese communities, it explores the multi-layered identities of the South African group and analyses the way in which their identities have changed over time and with each generation.
 
As the book makes clear, Chinese identities in South Africa have been shaped by both external and internal forces. As regards external factors, the state—both that of China and of South Africa—played a key role in establishing the parameters of identity construction. Over time the weight of this influence changed, as a result of international political events, internal racial policies, and external trade and political relations. At the same time, individual and community agency, and the force of the ‘China myth’, played important parts in the construction of Chinese South African identity.

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