Sacrifice After Mandela: Liberation and Liberalization Among South Africa’s First Post-Apartheid Generation

Kerry Chance, Anthropological Quarterly

This article examines sacrifice in a post-Mandela South Africa. Twenty years since the fall of apartheid, South Africa remains one of the world’s most unequal societies. From street protests to labor strikes to xenophobic pogroms, dissatisfaction with current socio-economic conditions is being expressed through urban unrest, particularly in townships and shack settlements. This article analyzes an emerging idiom of “sacrifice” among youth activists in response to deaths and injuries sustained during recent street protests. I argue that this idiom draws from understandings of liberation and liberalization, popular imaginaries of the anti-apartheid struggle, and processes associated with the country’s transition to democracy. Broadly, I suggest that sacrifice under liberalization reveals the blurring boundaries between “the gift” and “the market” in political life. [Keywords: Sacrifice, politics, violence, poverty, liberalization]

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