Vol. 35 Issue 3/4 - 2012
The valorisation of symbolic labour: the articulation of proper womanhood in post-apartheid Potchefstroom
Abstract Drawing on ethnographic data gleaned from nine months of research conducted among elderly, middle-class, Afrikaans- speaking members of a voluntary woman's organisation that aims at providing adult education to women, pertaining to womanhood, wifehood and motherhood, this paper shows how the context provides a space in which members construct a model of proper womanhood that is based on the valuation of modesty, thrift, the valorisation of talents, and industriousness—‘Positive Protestantism’. This model hinges upon domestic work as an institution, and on the transformation of reproductive labour into symbolic labour. This transformation is the reason why Huisvlyt1 members experience the distribution of inalienable wealth as a dilemma of transmission, since their female kin do not value Positive Protestantism as a model of proper womanhood, resulting in Huisvlyt members realising Kopytoff's insight that objects have social lives, and that their prized possessions are running the risk of becoming garbage.
Subjects: Gift, commodity, propriety, inalienable wealth, material culture
Community perceptions of tourism in the Tshivhase area of the Limpopo Province, South Africa
C.C. Boonzaaier & J.H.F. Grobler
Abstract In the past, Third World places and peoples have been promoted largely by First World tourism agents who relied heavily on stereotyped images from a colonial past, consequently depriving local communities of opportunities and the right to define their own public identity. This study examines how members of three socio-demographic groupings in a rural community in the Limpopo Province of South Africa would prefer to be presented, and the article argues that communities should have a say and control in this respect. Qualitative research which took socio-demographic variables such as age group, level of education and occupation into account was conducted in three rural Venda villages in the Limpopo Province which have been exposed to tourists. Most respondents preferred accurate representation of their traditional culture in promotional material, but significant differences between groups emerged, providing a fragmented picture, indicating that it is impossible to provide a general, representative portrayal of community perceptions and ways in which communities prefer to be promoted.
Subjects: Community perceptions, tourism, stereotypes, images, Third World marketing, Venda
Performing illness and health: the humanistic value of cancer narratives
Abstract Cancer is a potent example of a disease that grips and plays out on the body in ways that are both visceral and visual. This paper explores issues of disease and disorder, functioning and malfunctioning in bodies marked by cancer and a sense of non- belonging. By working through the heuristic device of ‘narrative’, the paper argues for the humanistic value and currency of the personal (subjective) illness narrative in social science scholarship in being able to convey to audiences the emotional and existential complexities of cancer, beyond the merely medical. The paper, by drawing on ethnographic narratives of a small group of women with cancer and their inscriptive treatment practices, probes the shifting and constructed concepts of a so-called ‘healthy’ body and ‘ill’ body as experienced by the women, and attempts to show that a recognition of these experiences of the physical body is potentially able to contribute to shaping more compassionate, person-centred health care models of illness and healing.
Subjects: Women, cancer narratives, disease, body, illness, death, dying
‘Social pain and social death’: poor white stigma in post-apartheid South Africa, a case of West Bank in East London
Abstract This article looks at poor white stigma in post-apartheid South Africa. Drawing on my ethnographic engagement with my informants, I developed this article as a part of my broader argument that explores the complex nature of white poverty in South Africa. In the context of East London, where my study was based, I explore poor white stigma within the context of ‘coastal whiteness’, an ideological perception of white lives in the coastal environment. This paper is particularly interested in understanding the marginal spaces which are occupied by poor whites and how these spaces are imagined within dominant white communities. I argue that poor whites represent ‘abnormality’ within white communities. As such they are often perceived as contradicting the progressive value systems of ‘normal’ whites, who are beyond poverty and are said to be committed to hard work and self-improvement. Furthermore, poor whites are seen to represent a threat to the ideals of white culture that is perceived as immune to poverty. Because of this perception of poverty as some form of exceptionally negative condition, fear and shame are attached to it. The extent of stigma attached to the condition of white poverty actually alienates those trapped in this position. Because of the rejection that poor whites are subjected to, they are constantly made to endure social pain and social death. Their existence becomes null and void to many. They are made to feel like some form of reject product that carries little value.
Subjects: Coastal whiteness, East London, marginality, poor whites, West Bank, South Africa, stigma
The burden of responsibility and the breakdown of traditional paternalism on farms in the Western Cape
Abstract The transition that followed the 1994 democratic election in South Africa brought with it a host of progressive legislation aimed at the provision of a secure environment for those previously marginalised. The Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) (1997) was an example of such progressive legislation and aimed at providing tenure security specifically for farm workers. To a large extent ESTA, and other legislation, interrupted traditional paternalism on the farms, where farmers, now faced with legislated expectations and accompanying responsibilities to comply with basic requirements for housing on the farms, started to implement strategies to lessen their responsibilities and, in the process, lessen the amount of housing available to farm workers. The implementation of ESTA and the move away from paternalism on the farms brought with it a number of unintended consequences, often resulting in the creation of a less secure environment for exactly those it was supposed to protect.
Subjects: Paternalism, post-apartheid legislation, white farmers, coloured workers, farms
‘Anthropological futures’? Thoughts on social research and the ethics of engagement
Abstract This article was presented as the keynote address at the 2012 Anthropology Southern Africa Conference. The theme of the conference was Southern African Anthropological Futures: Opportunities and Constraints, and as such in this piece I consider some of the themes I see emerging in Southern African anthropology, from my position as a nascent practitioner. Specifically, I examine the ethical difficulties raised by the discipline's emphasis upon bringing to light the ways in which ordinary life unfolds in contexts of structural violence. I argue that the employment of an ‘ethics of care’ in these contexts carries a danger of alterity, but that this can be guarded against in particular ways. Some of these ways emerge in the second theme on which I focus: that of an extension of our approach to ‘the field’. I argue that the increasing tendency of anthropologists in southern Africa to study at home, in combination with the increasing tendency to maintain relationships with interlocuters over very extended periods of time, allows for the mobilisation of an ethics of mutuality rather than care.
Subjects: Anthropological futures, ethics, structural violence, anthropology at home, alterity, mutuality
Points of Departure: reflections on Shannon Morreira's “keynote address: ‘Anthropological futures’?: Thoughts on social research and the ethics of engagement.”
Anthropological knowledge and sympathy: a response to debate
Kathleen Lorne McDougall
Who is the southern African anthropologist?
Response to Shannon Morreira's paper: ‘Anthropological futures’? Thoughts on Social Research and the Ethics of Engagement
Anthropology today and tomorrow—A commentary to Shannon Morreira's “Anthropological futures? Thoughts on Social Research and the Ethics of Engagement”
Chimusoro Kenneth Tafira
Ilana van Wyk
Shannon Morreira: closing thoughts
Heike Becker, Coralie Valentyn & Naledi Yaziyo