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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].

  • Aporias de Moçambique pós-colonial: Estado, Sociedade e Capital: Estado, Sociedade e Capital

    Este livro escrutina o impacto significativo da independência em diferentes sectores da sociedade moçambicana. Quarenta e cinco anos após a independência, Moçambique conheceu várias transformações. O Moçambique pós-colonial é hoje, em muitos aspectos, diferente do Moçambique colonial. No entanto, existem muitas questões permanentes relativas a essas transformações e ao seu impacto na maioria do povo moçambicano.
    Ao salientar as contradições de todos os processos políticos e sociais em Moçambique pós-colonial, neste livro levantamos questões que visam desconstruir alguns mitos sobre o país.
    Temas como estado, desenvolvimento, política, cultura, nação, políticas públicas, políticas agrárias e outros são questionados em abordagens teóricas inovadoras e progressivas, a fim de compreender o passado, o presente e o futuro de Moçambique numa perspectiva crítica. Por conseguinte, cada tema do livro é tratado de uma perspectiva crítica para melhor captar as aporias dos últimos quarenta e cinco anos de independência.
    A liberalização política que deveria permitir mais partilha de poder e mais respeito pelos direitos políticos e cívicos consolidou, pelo contrário, um regime autoritário que utiliza a ajuda internacional e os benefícios da indústria extractiva não para transformar o país, mas para construir a sua hegemonia política, económica e social em todo o país.
    Defendemos neste livro a tese de que é impossível compreender a verdadeira dinâmica social, política, económica e cultural sem considerar o “povo” como uma categoria essencial de análise.
    Apesar de muitas transformações positivas que ocorreram após a independência, Moçambique ainda preserva muitas heranças coloniais e, portanto, várias transformações estão ainda por implementar.
    Neste trabalho afirmamos que Moçambique é governado por elites que são incapazes de descolonizar o projecto de desenvolvimento que ainda está ancorado na agenda da capital internacional.
    O objectivo deste livro é dar uma melhor compreensão do que tem sido o processo de independência em Moçambique e porque é que o país pós-colonial ainda é colonial na sua estrutura política e económica. Assim, são dados muitos exemplos para dar ao leitor a possibilidade de confrontar as perspectivas teóricas aqui utilizadas com os casos concretos.
    Todos os estudos deste livro mostram que quarenta anos de independência não foram vividos da mesma forma pelas elites que governam o país e pelas populações que vivem sob o seu domínio. Por um lado, as elites no poder e os seus parentes beneficiaram, e ainda beneficiam dos recursos do país, enquanto que uma grande parte da população continua à espera das promessas da independência.
    De um ponto de vista político a económico, os estudos que compõem o livro destacam como o “desenvolvimento” em Moçambique tem estado em contradição com as necessidades do país. Significa que o actual modelo de desenvolvimento responde muito mais à capital internacional do que à transformação social de Moçambique.

  • We Rise for Our Land: Land Struggles and State Repression in Southern Africa

    In recent years southern Africa has aroused the interest of domestic and foreign investors targeting several sectors. The agrarian and extractive capital has been the most penetrating in the countryside, causing land conflicts, displacement of local peasant communities and in worse cases, deaths. Being mostly neoliberally oriented, SADC states have by and large positioned themselves in favour of capital. This collusion result in State measures that are hostile to the peasantry of their countries.

    The position and measures taken by the States, both in policies and in repressive actions, are by and large endorsed by of high-level government officials, Ministers, Presidents, Kings and traditional Chiefs. As far as traditional chiefs are concerned, even in situations where the presence of capital is frivolous, ‘feudal’-type power relations prevail, oppressing mainly young people and women.

    The peasantry and rural people in general have not, however, been passive in this process. Alone or in alliance with non-governmental organisations and activists, they have positioned themselves strongly against such dynamics and have raised their voices questioning developmentalist logics that are imposed on them, but that take away their means of production and violate their rights. In fact, resistance movements to capital are taking place throughout the region, even if the response to this has been repression by the states.

    This book, which takes an scholar-activist stance, is written by authors, men and women, who critically study the dynamics of agrarian and extractive capital in southern Africa. In their academic and activist work, they seek to bring useful theoretical, conceptual and practical contributions to the struggles of agrarian and rural movements that represent the ‘subalternised’ rural and urban people. The book brings contributions in forms of chapters from DRC, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Mauritius and Madagascar.