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Constructing Otherness, Strategies of Sameness

Constructing Otherness, Strategies of Sameness

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Published by imhehenkamp
An award winning thesis of strategies of invisibility of African immigrants in Alexandra township, South Africa. Ilja Hehenkamp lived and conducted research in Alexandra for 5 months. Research was conducted in the context of the xenophobic riots of May 2008.
An award winning thesis of strategies of invisibility of African immigrants in Alexandra township, South Africa. Ilja Hehenkamp lived and conducted research in Alexandra for 5 months. Research was conducted in the context of the xenophobic riots of May 2008.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: imhehenkamp on Dec 05, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/04/2014

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CONSTRUCTINGOTHERNESS,STRATEGIES OFSAMENESS
 Xenophobia, the Ambiguity of Strangenessand Strategies of Invisibility of AfricanImmigrants in Alexandra, South AfricaMA Thesis
Ilja Hehenkamp
 
Constructing Otherness,Strategies of Sameness
Xenophobia, The Ambiguity of Strangeness andStrategies of Invisibility of African Immigrantsin Alexandra, South Africa
B
Y
I
LJA
H
EHENKAMP
MA Thesis submitted to the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sci-ences in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masterof Science, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Sociology of non-Western Societies, University of AmsterdamMay 21, 2010Studentnumber: 0271241Supervisor: Prof. Dr. N. BesnierSource cover-photo:
http://www.timeslive.co.za/multimedia/dynamic/00504/Alex_504152b.jpg
 
Abstract
Global flows of interconnectedness are widely countered within nation-states withexclusionary notions of autochthony and belonging. People who are perceived bystate-authorities and their national subjects to be illegitimate competitors for state-provided goods, a threat to national identity and/or to contaminate cultural valuesare increasingly constructed by them as non-belonging outsiders. Once these con-structions of otherness are shaped by a dehumanizing, xenophobic state-discourseand accompanied by anxieties about who can legitimately claim scarce resourcescitizens sometimes resort to violent means to exclude these strangers they often per-ceive to be scapegoats for their social ills. Strangers, however, are frequently notable to be recognized as such and thus represent a highly ambiguous and liminalcategory within national imaginations. Therefore, citizens often employ stigma asa convenient device to reify their difference with strangers. Bodily attributes, suchas morphological features, appearances, behaviour and languages are rendered bythese stigmatizers as meaningful signifiers by which they identify individuals whothey perceive to be inherently different. Bodies and their attributes, however, pro-vide far from a secure map for categorical order and can be highly deceptive. Par-ticularly because of the ambiguous and performative nature of identity, individualscarrying a particular stigma –especially when they live in spaces in which their inter-subjective relations with others are radically transformed by violence and hostility–can adhere to these culturally dictated scripts of difference making in order to hidetheir identity. Far from being passive victims on the margins from the public realm,these excluded ‘others’ are able to employ creative agency to negotiate, manipulateor hide their ‘otherness’ or feign ‘sameness’ to avoid various forms of exclusion. Bydrawing on the case of the xenophobic riots in South Africa in May 2008, this the-sis will identify the variety of ways African immigrants in the Alexandra township,South Africa employ creative strategies in order to render their foreignness invisiblein their interactions with citizens they still experience to be highly hostile.

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