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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Democracy as technopolitical future: delivery and discontent in a government settlement in the South African countryside
Author:Dubbeld, BernardISNI
Periodical:Anthropology Southern Africa (ISSN 2332-3264)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:local government
rural areas
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/23323256.2016.1238771
Abstract:This paper is concerned with how democracy is understood and experienced in a KwaZulu-Natal municipal administration and one of the settlements it governs. Considering that democracy has a range of popular meanings, and that in South Africa it has been tied to the promise of a better life, I explore how municipal officials have identified democracy with a technopolitical future in which experts evaluate poor communities and implement infrastructure as a mechanism of improvement. I also show how residents of the settlement have become disenchanted at what they experience as democracy's inability to deal with their basic everyday needs. Their disenchantment is directed not only at state officials, but at democracy as an ideal, and they articulate it most forcefully with a growing antipathy towards democratic rights perceived as intruding into the domestic sphere. In order to understand both the municipal state's approach to democracy and residents' reactions to it, I draw on recent work by Partha Chatterjee and James Ferguson to consider whether concepts of 'political society' and 'the left art of government' are helpful in theorising democratic governance in the South African countryside. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]