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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The politics of being a human being in Soweto: identity as a social capital 'Everything not forbidden is compulsory' (T.H. White)
Author:Eze, Michael OnyebuchiISNI
Year:2011
Periodical:Journal of Contemporary African Studies (ISSN 0258-9001)
Volume:29
Issue:3
Pages:299-313
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:identity
social networks
Blacks
immigrants
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02589001.2011.581481
Abstract:In this paper, the concept of social capital is redefined in the context of identity politics within contemporary South Africa. Two variant modes of identity construction are discussed: identity discrimination by new black elites in Soweto, and 'identity performance' by immigrants in South Africa. A case is made against the fetishism of identity dogmas that thrive upon closed historicity. Any narrative of subjective formation that is beckoned upon closed historicity is a predisposition towards identity 'commoditization'. As the term suggests, commoditization implies that human subjectivity is 'wholly' dependent and measured 'only' through the compass of social capital. Commoditization of identity means that human subjectivity is no longer transcendental but an object of possession - 'I am what I have or where I come from'. This fixation on subjective acquisition and 'possessivisms' as an ethno-subjective repertoire for our overall subjective formation is identity fundamentalism. Although the notion of social capital in South Africa's context is a residue of South Africa's history of racialist capitalism, its present pervasiveness has generated a peculiar pattern of identity fundamentalism in which competition over economic resources has become construed as a threat to subjectivity. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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