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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Alien-nation: zombies, immigrants, and millennial capitalism
Authors:Comaroff, JeanISNI
Comaroff, JohnISNI
Year:1999
Periodical:CODESRIA Bulletin
Issue:3-4
Pages:17-28
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:social isolation
labour migration
Abstract:There is an obsession in rural postapartheid South Africa with a rush of new commodities, currencies, and cash; with things whose acquisition is tantalizingly close, yet always just out of reach to all but those who understand their perverse secrets; with the disquieting figure of the zombie, an embodied, dis-spirited phantasm widely associated with the production of these new forms of wealth. Zombies have ghostly forebears who have arisen in periods of social disruption characterized by sharp shifts in control over the fabrication and circulation of value. The half-life of zombies in South Africa, past and present, is linked to the immigrant black workers from elsewhere on the continent, whose demonization is an equally prominent feature of the postcolonial scene. Together, these proletarian pariahs make visible a local chapter in a global story of changing relations of labour to capital, of production to consumption, through their epitomization of the two sides of postapartheid millennial capitalism: the ever more distressing awareness of the absence of work, itself measured by the looming presence of the figure of the immigrant, and the constantly reiterated suspicion, embodied in the zombie, that it is only by magical means, by consuming others, that people may enrich themselves in these perplexing times. Bibliogr., notes, ref.
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