Chasing Rainbows: The Insider, The Outsider and Post-Apartheid Xenophobic/Afrophobic Violence in South Africa



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In May 2008, newspapers in South Africa and around the world carried gory news of Black African nationals in the land-locked Gauteng province of South Africa forcibly beaten, raped, and driven out of their communities by other Black South Africans. The targeted violence caused alarm for local, regional and global communities for two major reasons: the selectivity of its victims and the uncannily replicative apartheid ideology of the insider and the outsider marshalled by Black South Africans as justification of the violence. My independent research grapples with the dynamics of this violence through a multi-scalar and multi-temporal lens. Drawing upon a curated archive of reportage from 2008 - 2018 from Gauteng-based newspapers, I examine how territorial and spatial regulations underpin categories of belonging and how these insider/outsider designations challenge state-led efforts towards social cohesion as rooted in the philosophy of ubuntu - “I am because you are, and because you are I am.” The logic of elimination forms the basis for my conceptual framework as I argue that there are ideological continuities in the apartheid and post-apartheid periods and that these come to bear in the enactment and justification of post-apartheid xenophobic/Afrophobic violence. I further contend that the insider and outsider identity categorizations shape social cohesion beyond South African borders, especially with regard to efforts at African regional integration. Taken together, this research theorizes about violence and the structure and logic of historic systems of oppression to analyze how such processes inform experiences of belonging both in the past and in the present. In doing this, it makes an important contribution to International Relations scholarship by questioning canonical understandings of statehood in the context of political analyses on Africa, and suggests new ways to think about the centrality of identity in the enactment and justification of extralegal violence.



Critical Race Theory, Logic of Elimination, Postcolonial Black Ethnography, International Relations in Africa, xenophobia/Afrophobia