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People Resisting Xenophobic Violence: Understanding popular political responses to the South African identitarian crisis
The book is concerned with popular responses to the crisis of xenophobic violence in South Africa. It argues, that xenophobia itself is not primarily a reaction to poverty, inequality, or any other set of social conditions. Rather, xenophobia must be considered to be a collective political discourse which has arisen in post-apartheid South Africa from an exclusionary conception of state nationalism. Where this work may be distinguished from the majority of research on xenophobia in South Africa is in the fact that its particular focus is on instances where ‘ordinary’ South Africans have challenged and resisted xenophobic violence in their communities through collective political mobilisation. I suggest that these sites of resistance deserve careful consideration in their own right. I argue that they may demonstrate a subjective break with the oppressive politics of state nationalism through the affirmation of alternative political conceptions. Drawing on the political theory of Sylvain Lazarus, and his principal thesis that people are capable of thinking politics in ways which can subjectively think beyond the social and the extant (underscored by his political and methodological axiom, people think), the book will argue that these sites of resistance show that people – and especially those who are considered to be marginalised from the domain of legitimate politics – can and do think politically, and it is in the thought of people that new and potentially emancipatory visions of politics may emerge.
The first chapter of the book sets out empirically the rise of xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa, with a focus on the ways in which state politics and practices have produced a hegemonic xenophobic discourse in the country. Chapter Two situates this discussion within a review of the academic literature, arguing that sociological explanations are by themselves unable to account for the phenomenon.
Chapter Three discusses three sites in which xenophobia has been effectively contested through collective political mobilisation: by Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Merafong Demarcation Forum (MDF) in Guateng in 2008, and in the Unemployed people’s Movement (UPM) in Grahamstown (now Makhanda) in 2015 (where I conducted fieldwork over a year). It is argued that the presence of collective political organisation before the outbreak of xenophobic violence provided the conditions for an effective challenge to xenophobic politics to occur.
Chapter Four is largely theoretical, drawing primarily on the work of Sylvain Lazarus, as well as Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière. The chapter argues that it is essential to insist on politics as subjective, as it is only in the thought of people that emancipatory modes of politics which exceed socially located interests may emerge and be constituted through collective mobilisation into political praxis.
Chapter Five sets out the methodological approach to my own research with members of the Unemployed People’s Movement in Grahamstown. The aim of the approach is to aid in the investigation of what Sylvain Lazarus has called ‘subjective singularities’, or specific forms of thinking which characterize a political sequence. Put simply, the approach endeavours to try to understand people’s thinking on its own terms, through the categories and idioms which are specific to that subjective singularity, and which cannot be sociologically reduced to external explanatory referents such as class, race, power, or identity. The aim is to be able to identify and elucidate the specific prescriptive thought which may emerge as people think and articulate their own struggles.
Chapter Six sets out my discussions with 18 UPM activists. Based on the methodological approach indicated above, the purpose of this empirical chapter was not to provide any form of ethnography or sociology of the movement, but to try and elucidate, through the activists’ own categories, the subjective singularity which underpinned the movement’s anti-xenophobic politics during a particular sequence. The aim is not to extrapolate from the activists’ statements concepts, cases or types which might have broader application for the study of xenophobia generally, but only to try to understand and elucidate the forms of thinking which characterised this particular sequence in its subjective singularity. These forms of thinking, I argue, are notable and important in their own right.
[Note: Additional material from the interviews with the UPM members, which I was not able to include in the MA thesis, will be incorporated into the book manuscript to extend and develop the investigation into the political thinking of UPM members and to delineate the character of the political sequence].
어떻게 자본주의를 넘어설 것인가라는 질문에 대한 답을, 지금 우리가 “감히” 찾아보려고 한다. 이 소책자를 통해, 자본주의를 벗어나 생태사회주의로 향하는 길을 찾는 우리의 노력이 뚜렷해지길 바란다.
자본주의에 갇힌 우리는, 어떤 형태로든 행동 또는 비행동inaction에 관여하고 있다. 행동은, 자본주의를 직접 마주하기 보다는 자본주의가 초래하는 심각한 여러 문제를 개선하기 위한 투쟁에 참여하는 모습을 띈다. 즉, 우리의 행동은 원인이 아니라 결과에 초점을 맞추는 모순을 보인다.
반면, 비행동은 동의를 의미하게 된다. 우리는 자본주의 경제 체계를 영속시키는 경제 활동에 문제 제기를 하거나 변화를 요구하는 행동을 하지 않음으로써 자본주의에 [암묵적으로] 동의하고 있다. 결과적으로 평범한 우리가 자본주의에 봉사하는 자본가 역할을 계속하고 있는 것이다.
왜 자본주의 억압의 대상인 우리가 억압에 동의하는가? 그 이유가 단지 [외부의] 탄압 때문만은 아니라고, 이탈리아 파시즘 하의 감옥에서 그람시Antonio Gramci는 말했다. 즉, “헤게모니”를 장악하는 이념이 우리의 삶을 둘러싼 억압적인 환경을 설명하고 정당화하는 것이다.
“소소한 혁명”은, 개개인의 삶 속에서, 쉽고 안전하게, 엄청 근사하지는 않지만 일상적이고 실천가능한 행동과 비행동을 얘기한다. 지금까지의 혁명사는, 혁명을 가능하게 했던 전체 민중보다는 소수의 혁명가에 주목했었지만, 자본주의에 맞서는 “우리는” 마르크스나 엥겔스가 떠올렸던 주인공들보다 훨씬 다양하고 규모가 커졌다. 자본주의를 수호하기 위해 싸우는 “그들은” 전 세계 인구의 극소수일 뿐이다.
자본주의의 어떤 특징이 억압적이고 그래서 제거되어야 하는지, 또 반대로 어떤 사회경제구조의 특징이 억압적이지 않으며 그래서 남겨져야 하는지를 뚜렷이 설명하는 전략이 필요하다. 자본주의 이후 사회가 어떤 모습이어야 할지는 점점 명확해지고 있다. 소소한 혁명은, 자본주의의 영속과 발전에 필수적인 과정에 대한 우리의 동의를 거두는 데에서 시작하여, 수 백 만의 우리가, 여전히 적은 소수이긴 하지만, 건설적인 혹은 파괴적인 노력에 창의적으로 참여할 수 있는 방법 또한 포함한다.
세상은 자본주의 그 이후로 이미 진행 중이다. 세계 곳곳에서 창의적인 모습의 공동체communal organization들이 생겨나 스스로 통치하고 구성원들의 생존과 안녕을 보장하기 위해 활동하고 있다. 복지 국가를 포함한 자본주의 국가를 넘어서는 것은 국가 자체를 넘어서는 결과로 이어진다. 연대 경제solidarity economy는 먼저, 소규모의 협동조합 성격을 띄는, 저렴하고 유쾌하고 편안한 주거 공간을 구성하는 방법을 모색하여, 착취적인 임대료, 빚, 세금, 보험에 대한 공동의 해결책을 제시한다. 또한 이러한 공동체는, 영양이 풍부한 먹거리를 지역에서 생산하여 유통하는 방법으로, 자본주의식 농업으로부터 독립을 꾀할 수 있다.
창조적 파괴는, 허가를 받아 하는 대규모의 시위가 아니라 자본주의가 순조롭게 기능할 수 없게 멈추거나 둔화시키는 직접 행동으로 가능하게 된다. 우리가 투자나 세금으로 흘러가게 내버려 두는 돈의 흐름을 비자본주의적인 연대경제에 돌리는 것도 창조적 파괴의 한 방법이다.
소소한 혁명은, 간단하고 안전하며, 자신의 삶을 조금이라도 바꾸고 싶은 의지가 있는 사람이라면 실천가능하다. 자본주의가 우리의 안녕과 행복을 파괴하는 체계라는 것을 알면서도, 부지불식간에 자본주의를 지지하고 동의하는 행동을 멈추는 즐거움을 누릴 수 있다. 놀랍게도 혁명을 위해 다치거나 죽지 않아도 되고, 심지어 큰 불편을 감수하지 않아도 된다. 우리가 해야 할 일은 단 하나. 어차피 하기 싫었던 여러 일들을 이제 정말 그만두는 것이다.
Revolución Rinky-Dink: Yendo Más Allá del Capitalismo Negando Consentimiento, y Promoviendo Construcciones Creativas y Destrucciones Creativas
Este panfleto aborda la pregunta: ¿cómo podemos pasar de A a B, del capitalismo al poscapitalismo? La revolución de Rinky-dink involucra acciones e inacciones que son fáciles, seguras, mundanas, sin glamour y factibles dentro de la vida de cada persona.
Howard Waitzkin presenta una intervención clara y directa para el cambio revolucionario en el sistema económico capitalista global. Cubre mucho terreno, con sofisticación, mientras mantiene la discusión en tierra. Su enfoque en las formas de facilitar un desafío al capital y construir una mayor transformación revolucionaria es crucial en esta coyuntura histórica. Esta discusión sobre construcciones creativas y destrucciones creativas es particularmente útil.
— Brett Clark, profesor de sociología de la Universidad de Utah y autor De El Robo De La Naturaleza: Capitalismo Y Grieta Ecológica, The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and Ecological Rift en inglés.
El fin del capitalismo es posible. Waitzkin nos lleva un paso más allá en el proceso creativo para esta transformación. A través de ejemplos específicos de grupos organizados dentro de los Estados Unidos y en el extranjero, este trabajo constituye una guía práctica para todos. Waitzkin alienta nuestra creatividad para actos organizados y seguros además de omisiones para trascender el capitalismo.
— Nylca J. Munoz Sosa, abogada, líder de salud pública y activista centrada en la justicia sanitaria y la descolonización en Puerto Rico.
It has only been in recent years that there has been some recognition of the role played by the Land and Freedom Army, dubbed by the British as the ‘Mau Mau’ in the achievement of political independence of Kenya. For many years, the history of the Mau Mau has been presented in the colonial narrative as a murderous and terrorist group of bestial atavism. But what was their role in the struggle for colonial freedom? How did they organise, what were their influences and how did they manage to achieve so much against such overwhelming odds? There have been numerous books written about the Mau Mau, but few have sought to give voice to those who were directly involved in the struggles of the movement.
By far the most important of these is Mau Mau from Within: Autobiography and Analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt by Donald L Barnett and Karari Njama, first published by Monthly Review Press (New York) in 1968.
Mau Mau from Within is a story told by Karari Njama, a school teacher who was directly involved in the struggles for freedom from colonial rule, which was brought together by anthropologist Donald Barnett. As the late Basil Davidson put it: “Njama writes of the forest leaders’ efforts to overcome dissension, to evolve effective tactics, to keep discipline (including sexual discipline) and mete out justice … and to teach men how to survive in those merciless forests. His narrative is crowded with excitement. Those who know much of Africa and those who know little will alike find it compulsive reading. Some 10,000 Africans died fighting in those years . Here, in the harsh detail of everyday experience, are the reasons why.”
This unique book has been out of print since the 1970s. No other book published since that time has managed to capture so vividly and candidly the immense sacrifice and courage of those who fought for Kenya’s freedom. It tells a story that is essential for younger generations to reflect on in their struggles for justice and dignity today.
It is a particularly valuable supplement to the Kenya Human Rights Commission’s (KHRC) amazing and superbly executed struggle in 2011 to extract not only an apology from the British Government for the atrocities it committed on Kenya’s freedom fighters; but even compensation, paltry as it was, for these egregious wrongs. Never before, or since, has Britain accepted its liabilities to the many colonies it once ruled over. The brave senior Mau Mau veterans who travelled to London to fight for the recognition of ‘Mau Mau’ will be gratified to read this story, which is their story, told by one of their own. The Mau Mau War Memorial at the Freedom corner in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park and Mau Mau from Within are landmarks in the memorialisation project of the KHRC.
Daraja Press (https://darajapress.com) has been in touch with the estate of the late Donald Barnett and has been granted rights to publish a new edition of the book. The book will contain additional commentary from Ngugi wa Thiongo, Professor Micere Githae Mugo, Gitu wa Kahengeri (Secretary General of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association) and others that will help the modern reader understand the context of the narrative and to reflect on their relevance. Monthly Review Press have expressed an interest in collaborating in the production of a US edition, and AwaaZ intends to publish an East African edition.
There has been a rise in the use of strategic litigation related to seeking equality for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons. Such developments are taking place against the backdrop of active homophobia in Africa. The law and the general public should, argues the author, treat LGB persons in the same way that heterosexuals are treated. In the past two decades,30 strategic cases have been ﬁ led by LGB activists in the Common Law African countries, namely in Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. While the majority of the cases have been successful, they have not resulted in signiﬁcant social change in any of the countries. On the contrary, there have been active backlashes, counter-mobilisations, and violence against LGB persons, as well as the further criminalisation of same-sex relations and constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriages in some of the jurisdictions. The author argues that activists in Common Law Africa have to design LGB strategic litigation in such a way as to ﬁ t within the actual social and political conditions in their countries if strategic litigation is to spur social change.
Adrian Jjuuko is an exceptional scholar. A rare combination of intellectual brilliance, commitment and hard work. The book is born of this. It reflects his incisive analytical skills, anchored in solid knowledge of the law and jurisprudential developments in the field. His ventures into political theory, philosophy, and the social sciences give the analysis additional clarity and empirical grounding.
—Siri Gloppen, Norwegian political scientist, professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen and Director of the CMI-UiB Center on Law and Social Transformation.
Adrian Jjuuko’s meticulously researched examination of the use of strategic litigation not only celebrates the many victories which have been realized in a range of African courts of law, it also reviews and critiques the losses. He demonstrates that the law can be both an effective tool for liberation, just as it can consolidate minority oppression, gender injustice and sexual tyranny. This book is a deeply engaging and highly recommended text for those interested in shaping the evolving rights and struggles of sexual minorities on the continent for decades to come.
— J. Oloka-Onyango, Professor of Law Makerere University School of Law
These poems by Issa Shivji, lawyer, activist and Tanzanian public intellectual, were written at different times in different circumstances. They give vent to personal anguish and political anger. Mostly originally written in Kiswahili, here accompanied by English translations, and they are intensely personal and political.
Poems are clustered under several headings to provide a context. The first combines personal agony at the loss of comrades and friends with poems about love and affection for living ones. The second is about robberies of freedom, resources, and dignity and the loss of justice under neoliberalism. The third section, entitled Hopes and Fears, comprises short poems tweeted over the last five years expressing despair, fear and hope in the human capacity for freedom.
The last section are poems, concerned with Shivji’s period in South Africa in 2018, reflect on the emergence of neo-apartheid with its wanton and shameless exploitation of the majority.
Wonderfully translated by Ida Hadjivayanis.
You can read the entire book online here for free.
Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi
Mississippi is the poorest state in the U.S. with the highest percentage of Black people and a history of vicious racial terror. The concurrent Black resistance is the backdrop and context for the drama captured in the collection of essays that is Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi. The long-awaited release of this seminal anthology will unveil the strategies and methods being pursued by this ongoing movement for Black community control and people-centered economic development.
“Jackson Rising is an exploration of our experiment in radical social transformation and governance that is directly challenging the imperatives of neoliberalism and the logic and structures of the capitalist system in Jackson and beyond.”
—Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson
Undeterred by the uncertainty, anxiety and fear brought about by the steady deterioration of the neoliberal order over the last few years, the response from radical activists in Jackson, Mississippi has been to concentrate on building a radical anti-capitalist alternative from the ground up. Inspired by the rich history of struggle and resistance in Mississippi and committed to the vision of the Jackson-Kush Plan, these activists are building institutions rooted in community power that combine politics and economic development into an alternative model for change, while addressing real, immediate needs of the people.
The experiences and analyses in this compelling collection reflect the creative power that is unleashed when political struggle is grounded by a worldview freed from the inherent contradictions and limitations of reform liberalism. As such, Jackson Rising is ultimately a story about a process that is organized and controlled by Black working people who are openly declaring that their political project is committed to economic democracy and radical participatory governance.
“Jackson is rising and emerging as a model for resistance and visioning beyond the challenges of the present. It stands as the dynamic counter to economic redundancy, political marginalization, and systematic state violence.”
—Ajamu Baraka, National Organizer, Black Alliance for Peace
Jackson Rising contains contributions from well-known community activists and organizers Hakima Abbas, Kali Akuno, Ajamu Baraka Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Kamau Franklin, Sacajawea Hall, Rukia Lumumba, Ajamu Nangwaya, Max Rameau, Makani Themba, and Jazmine Walker and Elandria Williams, as well as noted journalists and academics including Sara Bernard, Carl Davidson, Bruce A. Dixon, Laura Flanders, Katie Gilbert, Jessica Gordan-Nembhard, Michael Siegel, and Bhaskar Sunkara.
Cooperation Jackson is building a solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi, anchored by a network of worker-owned, democratically self-managed cooperative enterprises.
“...the effort in Jackson is an inspiration and evidence of what can be done in the poorest of communities to mobilize, educate, and organize a counterweight to predatory capitalism and White supremacy.
“Jackson Rising” is also a call for help. The vision of “solidarity economics” means making links outside of Jackson and creating alternative economic relationships that can help worker- and consumer-owned businesses survive the blows of everything from business downturns to overt political repression. In Mississippi, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
“And given the national need to turn so-called red states in a progressive direction, Cooperation Jackson could be one beginning.”
Every couple of years, an inspired group of people, led by the editors of AwaaZ Magazine (www.awazmagazine.com), organise a festival in Nairobi, Kenya, that goes by the name ‘SAMOSA’—South Asian Mosaic of Society and the Arts— bringing together different communities through art, music, dance, film and discussions. In 2016, during the 7th biennial event, included was a colloquium organised in collaboration with the Department of Literature of the University of Nairobi. This unique collection of essays considers the issues of citizenship, identity and belonging in Kenya through an examination of literature, film, music, and theatre, providing reflections on women, statelessness and refugees.
A pleasant quick read on a complex subject of citizenship, identity and belonging. Ignites an interest in these issues as expounded in the arts and film. —Dr George Gona, Senior Lecturer, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Nairobi.
This excellent compilation of papers by leading Kenyan academics, writers, public intellectuals and practitioners of various forms of art focuses on issues of citizenship, identity and belonging in literature, film, music and theatre. They cover a vast range of subjects that tell the story of Kenya’s past and present. —Ramnik Shah- Kenyan ex-lawyer who writes on migration and diaspora related subjects.
The essays here contribute to developing and deepening an understanding of the ecological challenges ravaging Nigeria, Africa and our world today. They illustrate the global nature of these terrors. These essays are not meant just to enable for coffee table chatter: they are intended as calls to action, as a means of encouraging others facing similar threats to share their experiences.
Set out in seven sections, this book of 54 essays deals with deep ecological changes taking place primarily in Nigeria but with clear linkages to changes elsewhere in the world. The essays are laid out with an undergird of concerns that characterise the author’s approach to human rights and environmental justice advocacy. The first section rightly presents broad spectrum ecological wars manifesting through disappearing trees, spreading desertification, floods, gas flaring and false climate solutions.
You can read this book online for free.
The second section zeroes in on the different types of violence that pervade the oil fields of the Niger Delta and draws out the divisive power of crude oil by holding up Sudan as a country divided by oil and which has created a myriad of fissures in Nigeria. The exploitation of crude oil sucks not just the crude, it also sucks the dignity of workers that must work at the most polluting fronts.
Section three underscores the need for strict regulation of the fossil fuels sector and shows that voluntary transparency templates adopted by transnational oil companies are mere foils to fool the gullible and are exercises in futility as the profit driven corporations would do anything to ensure that their balance sheets please their top guns and shareholders. The fourth section builds up with examples of gross environmental misbehaviours that leave sorrow and blood in a diversity of communities ranging from Chile to Brazil and the United States of America.
Section five of the book is like a wedge in between layers of ecological disasters and extractive opacity. It takes a look at the socio-political malaise of Nigeria, closing with an acerbic look at crude-propelled despotism and philanthropic tokens erected as payment for indulgence or as some sort of pollution offsets.
The closing sections provide excellent analyses of the gaps and contortions in the regulatory regimes in Nigeria. It would be surprising if these were not met with resistance on the ground.
These essays provide insights into the background to the horrific ecological manifestations that dot the Nigerian environment and the ecological cancers spreading in the world. They underscore the fact there are no one-issue struggles. Working in a context where analyses of ecological matters is not the norm, decades of consistent environmental activism has placed the writer in good stead to unlock the webs that promote these scandalous realities.
Edited by Ndongo Samba Sylla
The engaging and wide-ranging discussions published here explore contemporary political realities in Africa through a ‘social movement’ lens.
Detailing the nuances of social movement politics in 12 West African countries during the 2010-2013 period, they present a chronicle of the socio-political struggles that have taken place in the region. In so doing, this volume answers key questions related to these movements. What logic drives them? What forms do they take? What has been their political impact? Can we speak of a resurgence of social movements? If so, are these a response to the crisis of ‘representative democracy’? Did they give rise to new forms of expression and democratic participation? What challenges do they bring?
Discontent vis-à-vis liberalism in its political and economic dimensions seems to be the trigger of the numerous popular uprisings and protests that occur in the region. In spite of their ambiguities and limitations, these struggles currently seek to remove a double disconnect: that between citizens and the ‘representatives’ and that between the economy and society, between what capital wants and what the people aspire to.
Ndongo Samba Sylla, the editor of this volume, is a Senegalese economist, programme and research manager at the West Africa Office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. Author of The Fair Trade Scandal. Marketing poverty to benefit the Rich (translated from French by Pluto Press 2014), he is the editor of “Rethinking Development” (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation 2014). His recent research work deals with the history of the word ‘democracy’.
Ibrahim Abdullah – Souley Adji – Kojo Opoku Aidoo – Francis Akindès – Alpha Amadou Bano Barry – Fernando Leonardo Cardoso – Lila Chouli – Modou Diome – Moussa Fofana – Cláudio Alves Furtado – George Klay Kieh Jr – Claus-Dieter König – Severin Yao Kouamé – Fodé Mane – Issa N’Diaye – Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem – Ndongo Samba Sylla