Accepted Paper:

Race must fall: the politics of heritage, race and identity in South Africa  

Author:

Rosabelle Boswell (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

Paper short abstract:

This article considers the relationship between cultural heritage, race and identity in contemporary Port Elizabeth in South Africa before, during and after the #FeesmustFall university protests.

Paper long abstract:

Twenty-one years after the end of apartheid, South African identity is in the process of re-construction. There seems to be increasing racial polarisation of the society and a concomitant emphasis on indigeneity/autochthony amplified via intensified heritage politics. The paper asks how might heritage politics embed a hegemonic politics of race in South Africa? The discussion offers ethnography of the city of Port Elizabeth, a city situated in the poorest province of South Africa with a visible and pervasive history of European colonisation. I argue that the emergent politics of race are deeply influenced by new imperatives for decolonisation after #feesmustfall movement. There is pressure to re-localise identity and re-value indigenousness. The process is producing new tensions because after apartheid democratisation and neoliberalisation encouraged less primordial and arguably less embedded notions of self and heritage. The paper explores these tensions and complexities and what they mean for the conceptualisations of race in South Africa.

Panel P026
The anthropology of race and ethnicity network launch [ARE]