We are not South African: Decolonizing National Identity in a Post-Apartheid State



    In We are not South African, using the theoretical lenses of postcolonialism and posthumanism, I make three arguments: First, nations are not cohesive manifestations of one national imaginary, but are rather comprised of fractured and contradictory social imaginaries. Second, the fragility of the contemporary nation can be traced back to its toxic origin as a colonial construction. Thus, true liberation from ongoing coloniality in postcolonial nations necessitates a challenge to the existence of national identity and borders. Third, the nation is exploitative for both humans and
    non-humans alike. As the lives and well-being of humans and non-humans are inextricably interconnected, until liberation from the nation-state and coloniality is achieved for both, both parties will continue to suffer. I support these arguments using a historical analysis of the role that social imaginaries have played in South Africa; an examination of how the Internet contributes to the destabilization of the nation through interviews with South African emigrants; a critical discourse analysis of the discourses surrounding Cape Town Water Crisis and their pertinence to the nation; and by proposing one alternative social imaginary using the southern African ontology of ubuntu.
    At the heart of these arguments lies the more fundamental assertion about the nature of difference. Colonial logics aspire towards a unity of order, wherein the world functions in predictable and controllable ways. Difference is perceived as a deficit, something that must be tamed and absorbed into sanctioned systems of being, and the nation serves as one of coloniality’s instruments of order, to reduce difference into more manageable unified wholes. In contrast, decolonial logics recognize and celebrate the existence of a multiplicity of difference. Decolonial thinkers envision what Glissant calls a chaos-monde—a world that cannot be systematised. A world, I argue, in which nations cannot exist. In such a world, we must accept that we human beings are not in control and that the planet and all its inhabitants do not exist for
    our exploitation. Simultaneously, a chaos-monde also opens up new beautiful possibilities of relational, interdependent ways of being in the world, or “staying with the trouble” to borrow Haraway’s words.
    Originele taal-2English
    KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
    Toekennende instantie
    • University of Colorado Boulder
    • Echchaibi, Nabil, Supervisor, Externe Persoon
    Datum van toekenning19-aug-2020
    StatusPublished - 2020

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