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ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS  June 2008

ANTHROPOLOGY-MATTERS June 2008

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Subject:

Fwd: Violence in South Africa: Anthropologists' statement

From:

MARSLAND Rebecca <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

MARSLAND Rebecca <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 2 Jun 2008 19:26:08 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Mugsy Spiegel" <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: 30 May 2008 10:11:11 BDT
> To: "Marsland Rebecca" <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Violence in South Africa: Anthropologists' statement
>
> Dear Rebecca
>
> Anthropology Southern Africa (ASnA) is the region's association.   
> In the wake of the violence in South Africa recently, which made it  
> to international headlines, the Council issued the following  
> statement to the national press.  I wonder whether you might  
> distribute it to through Anthropology Matters.
>
> Thanks
> Andrew Spiegel
>
> Statement from Anthropology Southern Africa regarding violent  
> attacks on 'foreigners'
> Issued by the Council of Anthropology Southern Africa
>
> We are horrified by the violent attacks on fellow South African  
> residents. In particular we are ashamed at the extreme violence  
> against children, women and men, many of whom have settled in South  
> Africa's cities to escape violence, persecution and the  
> degradations of poverty elsewhere. We are shocked by the barbaric  
> actions of those who have taken to brutal mob violence against  
> their neighbours.
>
> As anthropologists, we are deeply concerned, both professionally  
> and as citizens, that these actions reflect a continuing emphasis  
> in South African political discourse on cultural, racial and  
> national differences. It is a discourse that, drawing on a long  
> discarded anthropology, essentialises such differences even as it  
> claims to celebrate them. It is a discourse that was central to  
> colonialism, slavery, segregation and apartheid. It is a discourse  
> that perversely persists to the present, now manifesting in the way  
> the media labels as 'xenophobia' horrendously violent acts where  
> some South Africans raise fists, swing axes and pangas, and use  
> matches to light fires as means to attack their fellows who happen  
> to speak different languages and allegedly look somewhat different  
> from themselves.
>
> We abhor the consequences of continuing and worsening poverty,  
> unemployment, failed service delivery, and the global economy's  
> effects and how they conspire to create extreme hardship for South  
> Africa's vast majority, and to make attractive that essentialising  
> discourse of difference. But we have to stress that never and  
> nowhere can those conditions excuse violent unbridled attacks on  
> fellow human beings.
>
> We suggest that, contrary to the current South African and  
> international political consensus, the presence of people who are  
> deemed to be ethnically, racially or nationally different is not at  
> the core of the problem; that the presence of so-called national,  
> ethnic or racial minorities are no more the cause of uproar in  
> Alexandra, Cleveland, or Hillbrow than they are of the ruthless  
> hunting down in Naples, Italy, of people who call themselves Roma.  
> The core of the problem lies, rather, in the fact of a system that  
> breeds inequality, that marginalises people to an ever greater  
> extent, and that then  through supposedly 'celebrating diversity'  
>  attributes their marginality to their alleged cultural, social  
> and national characteristics. As Southern African anthropologists,  
> we are convinced that closing borders and repatriating foreigners  
> is not the solution. Rather the solution lies in a politics which  
> explicitly fosters the non-racialism espoused by the South African  
> Constitution, that rejects and resists the power of identity  
> politics, and that strives for a cosmopolitanism that valorises the  
> contributions of all who have ever settled in our part of the world  
> whilst ensuring the freedom of association and of cultural and  
> linguistic expression of all human beings.
>
> ______________________________________________________________________ 
> __________________________________
> Anthropology Southern Africa is the regional association of social  
> and cultural anthropologists.  Its Council comprises:
> President: Andrew Spiegel
> Vice President: Kees van der Waal
> Treasurer: Christopher Colvin
> Secretary: Rehana Vally
> Members: Heike Becker and Joy Owen
> Student member: Silvana Barbali
> Journal Editor: Stephe Herselman
> http://asnahome.org
> ______________________________________________________________________ 
> ___________________________________
>
>
>
> -----------------------------------------
> Associate Professor Andrew D Spiegel
> Head, Department of Social Anthropology
> University of Cape Town
> P O Rondebosch
> 7701 Cape Town
> South Africa
>
> ph:  +27 21 650 3678/9
> fax: +27 21 650 2307
> Vice-president, IUAES
> President, ASnA
> -----------------------------------------


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