TagSouth Africa

Urban kinship: the micro-politics of proximity and relatedness in African cities, by Jesper Bjarnesen and Mats Utas

IMG_7873It is our pleasure and privilege to introduce a special issue of Africa, exploring the micro-politics of proximity and relatedness in six African cities. To understand how social and spatial proximity affects the dynamics of everyday sociality, we suggest the notion of urban kinship to capture how idioms of relatedness in the city build on more enduring socio-cultural legacies, often explicitly articulated in the language of family. Kinship ties are often thought to be naturally given, both in the sense of being biologically rooted in descent and in the sense of being inevitable as social ties. But kinship ties are indeed negotiable and require active work, in terms of their implications for the reproduction of relatedness as well as in their nominal orders. Continue reading

Laying foundations for the future — emerging social welfare programs in Southern Africa, book review by Stefan Granlund

During the spring term I taught African Studies at Uppsala University. Students created a blog Uppsala African Reviews where they published reviews of books with a focus on contemporary African issues. Stefan Granlund was one of the students.

Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the new politics of distribution

by James Ferguson
Duke University Press, 2015

More and more voices today reflect and discuss giving money directly to people living in poverty as a poverty alleviation tool. It gets mentioned in articles and blog posts in e.g Washington Post, in scientific articles by researchers and social justice activists, and economists and technocrats from left to right advocates it (Hickel 2015, Bregman 2013). In the development arena, social protection (in this case meaning cash transfers to people living in poverty) is today a firmly established concept within different actors such as the World Bank, the ILO, UNICEF but also civil society organisations. It’s rise in developing countries have for the last 15 years been remarkable (De Haan 2014, Barrientos et al. 2010). While there is significant differences betweens regions and countries in the design of the programmes, the trend is clear. Social protection in low and middle income countries is on the up. It is no longer an exclusivity for richer welfare nations in the West. Continue reading

“Afrophobia”? “Xenophobia”? “Black on black racism”? on phobic violence in South Africa, by Achille Mbembe

“Afrophobia”? “Xenophobia”? “Black on black racism”? A “darker” as you can get hacking a “foreigner” under the pretext of his being too dark — self hate par excellence? Of course all of that at once! Yesterday I asked a taxi driver: “why do they need to kill these “foreigners” in this manner?”. His response: “because under Apartheid, fire was the only weapon we Blacks had. We did not have ammunitions, guns and the likes. With fire we could make petrol bombs and throw them at the enemy from a safe distance”. Today there is no need for distance any longer. To kill “these foreigners”, we need to be as close as possible to their body which we then set in flames or dissect, each blow opening a huge wound that can never be healed. Or if it is healed at all, it must leave on “these foreigners” the kinds of scars that can never be erased. Continue reading

Report from the blue zone: some scant observations on race and security in South Africa

When it rains the whole area goes tick-tick as drops fall on the electric fences. Visitors are greeted with a sign saying ”Warning criminals you are entering a Blue Zone 24 hours dedicated patrols in operation”; we are in the thriving white ghetto Umhlanga outside Durban, South Africa. It is my first visit to South Africa and it is a very different and to some extent disturbing experience compared to my previous stays in West and East Africa. It is altogether a different zone – a blue zone. Indeed the airport works smoother than any in Sweden. Roads in Kwazulu-Natal are great. Traffic is flowing; traffic police monitoring our moves. Huge farms are impressive and scenery fantastic. People are all nice and talkative. And we all talk security. Maybe it is unfair, maybe we make them do so, but with my landlords, with taxi drivers and people in the street we always end up talking security. Our interpreters are white, black and Indian. Security is central to our discussions.

Big Brother is watching you. But he is not the state.

Big Brother is watching you. But he is not the state.

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A monster with a big diet: South African narratives of fear and crime (Guest post by Claudia Forster-Towne)

In speaking about South Africans and their emotions in my previous post it became clear (thanks to the wise words of Mats) that there is a need to discuss the fear experienced (real or perceived) by South Africans in their day to day lives.

Yes, South Africa (SA) is a violent place. Crime levels are high, as can be proven by a plethora of statistics and lived experiences. Recently the OSAC Report on Crime in SA labeled the situation as ‘critical’ in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and Cape Town. Crime Stats SA ‘boasts’ a series of facts relating to crime in South Africa such as “Over 161,000 people have been murdered in South Africa since 2004” and “5900 crimes are reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) everyday”. Personally I do not know a single person that has not been a victim of some or other crime, several of them particularly violent including armed robbery and kidnapping. Continue reading

South Africans and our emotions (Guest post by Claudia Forster-Towne)

Over the weekend I read a blog entry titled “The trouble with South Africa”. The author was mystified as to why the social networking world wasn’t more outraged at the shooting of 34 protesting miners in Marikana. Continue reading

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