Negotiating post-apartheid boundaries and identities : an anthropological study of the creation of a Cape Town Suburb

Broadbridge, Helena Tara (2001-12)

Thesis (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores the complex and contested processes of drawing boundaries and negotiating identities in the post-Apartheid South African context by analysing how residents in a new residential suburb of Cape Town are working to carve out a new position for themselves in a changing social order. Drawing on data gathered through participant observation, individual and focus group interviews, and household surveys between November 1998 and December 2000, the study examines how residents draw and negotiate boundaries in their search for stability, status, and community in a society characterised by social flux, uncertainty, ambiguity and contradiction. It explores the construction and shifting of identities believed to be embodied in those boundaries, at the levels of the individual, the household and the community. A range of everyday social and spatial practices - including streetscape design, its use and contestation, neighbourliness and sociality, .household livelihoods and strategies, home maintenance and improvements - are shown to reveal residents' own conceptualisations of boundaries, their practical significance and symbolic power, as well as their permeability and transgression. The marking and maintenance of boundaries convey how social relationships, practices and power in the suburb are structured and continually negotiated. By analysing these actions and responses, the study illustrates some of the ways in which recent changes in South African society have unsettled the relationship between class, race and space to construct new boundaries and shape new identities. The fmdings suggest that although social differentiation among the residents is increasingly being restructured around class, race remains a salient variable in residents' constructions of themselves and each other. Ethnic-religious prejudice is also shown to influence local conflict and constructions of community. The study draws out four discourses through which residents contemplate and formulate circumstances and processes in their neighbourhood. The first emphasises racial integration, the second middle class suburban living, the third safety from crime, the fourth distrust and disorder. The discourses are significant, not only in their practical manifestation in everyday interaction but also because they suggest some of the ways in which connections and disconnections with the past, with (he old identities and the old affiliations, are managed in a new, post-Apartheid South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie verken die komplekse en betwiste prosesse van die trek van grense en die onderhandeling van identiteite in die Suid-Afrikaanse post-Apartheid konteks, deur te analiseer hoe inwoners in 'n nuwe Kaapstadse residensiële voorstad te werk gaan om 'n nuwe posisie in 'n veranderende sosiale orde vir hulself daar te stel. Op grond van data bekom deur deelnemende observasie, onderhoude met indiwidue en fokusgroepe, en opnames in huishoudings tussen November 1998 en Desember 2000, ondersoek die studie hoe inwoners grense trek en onderhandel in hulle soeke na stabiliteit, status, en gemeenskap in 'n samelewing gekenmerk deur sosiale vloeibaarheid, onsekerheid, dubbelsinnigheid en teenstrydigheid. Dit verken die konstruksie en die verskuiwing van identiteite wat gesien word as dat dit binne hierdie grense tuis hoort, op die vlakke van die indiwidu, die huishouding en die gemeenskap. 'n Reeks alledaagse sosiale en ruimtelike praktyke - insluitende omgewingsbeplanning, die benutting en betwisting daarvan, buurskap en gemeenskapsin, huishoudelike bestaansmiddele en strategieë, huisonderhoud en verbeterings - toon inwoners se eie voorstellings van grense, hulle praktiese betekenis en simboliese invloed, sowel as hulle deurdringbaarheid en oorskryding. Die afbakening en handhawing van grense deel mee hoe sosiale verhoudings, praktyke en mag in die voorstad gestruktureer en voortdurend onderhandel word. Deur hierdie optredes en reaksies illustreer die studie sommige van die wyses waarop onlangse veranderings in die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing die verhouding tussen klas, ras en ruimte beïnvloed het om nuwe grense te konstrueer en nuwe identiteite te vorm. Die bevindings suggereer dat, hoewel sosiale differensiasie tussen die inwoners toenemend geherstruktureer word wat klas betref, ras 'n duidelik waarneembare onderliggende veranderlike in inwoners se siening van hulleself en mekaar bly. Etniesgodsdienstige vooroordeel word ook getoon 'n invloed op plaaslike konflikte en die konstruksie van gemeenskappe te wees. Die studie onthul vier diskoerse waardeur inwoners omstandighede en prosesse in hulle omgewing bedink en te kenne gee. Die eerste beklemtoon rasse-integrasie, die tweede voorstedelike middelklas lewenswyse, die derde misdaadsbeveiliging, die vierde wantroue en wanorde. Die diskoerse is betekenisvol, nie slegs in hulle praktiese manifestering in die daaglikse omgang nie, maar ook aangesien hulle sommige van die wyses waarop koppelings en ontkoppelings met die verlede, en sy ou identiteite en ou affiliasies, in 'n nuwe, post-Apartheid, Suid-Afrika hanteer word, suggereer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52353
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