Political Identities in Popular Politics: Some observations from Durban

Presented by Richard Pithouse

Monday, 3 April, 2017 - 15:00

In South Africa, as elsewhere, the elite public sphere is often best understood as being largely a site of intra-elite contestation. Political ideas and practices in the sphere of what is variously termed subaltern, plebeian or popular politics, or the politics of the common people, are often apprehended through what Frantz Fanon called the a priori. The result is that, to stay with Fanon, it is often the case that this politics “spontaneously, by the very fact of appearing in the scene, enters into a pre-existing framework”. This contribution offers some observations with regard to political identities in popular politics in the shantytowns of Durban. It pays particular attention to how people have understood their own politics and how popular organisation and mobilisation has been mediated through shifting political identities.

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