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Publication Details

Ballard, Richard  (2006) Social Movements in Post Apartheid South Africa: An Introduction. Centre for Civil Society Colloquium on the Economy, Society and Nature: 1-20.

Draft. Please do not quote without consulting author.

Accepted as a chapter in Jones, Peris & Stokke, Kristian (forthcoming) The Politics of Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa to be published by Martinus Nijhoff

Some of the most influential analysis of post-liberation mobilisation and opposition in Africa is pessimistic. Fanon observes that former liberation ‘militants disappear into the crowd and take the empty title of citizen’ (Fanon 1967:137).

Mamdani warns of the postcolonial ‘marriage between technicism and nationalism’ resulting in the demobilisation of social movements Mamdani 1996: 21). For Mbembe, political opposition in a postcolonial context is different to opposition in a colonial context as a result of the local origins of the postcolonial elite. Whereas colonial relations are characterised by either resistance or cooperation against an external oppressor, postcolonial relations are convivial as a result of the familiarity between the population and now local elite (Mbembe 2001: 104). Mbembe describes the outcome as a mutual ‘zombification’ in which the dominant and dominated are left impotent. … at any given moment in the postcolonial historical trajectory, the authoritarian mode can no longer be interpreted strictly in terms of surveillance, or the politics of coercion. The practices of ordinary citizens cannot always be read in terms of ‘opposition to the state,’ ‘deconstructing power,’ and ‘disengagement.’ In the postcolony, an ‘intimate tyranny’ links the rulers with the ruled – just as obscenity is only another aspect of munificence, and vulgarity a normal condition of state power. (Mbembe 2001: 128)

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