Neoliberalism and the techno-politics of Apartheid

Monday, 18 September, 2017 - 15:00

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It is well-established in the South African historiography that the apartheid government adopted a new “language of legitimation” (Posel, 1984) in the aftermath of the 1976 student uprisings. In this reformulation of authoritarian governance, the government approached its racial segregationist policies pragmatically, emphasising the delivery of material goods, to quell black protest. But these studies have been divorced from the other characteristic feature of the late apartheid era- that of the neoliberal transition. Neoliberalism is generally considered at the national, macro-level and its beginning marked by the sale of public assets in the late 1980s. In considering its enactment at the level of local, institutional governance (Von Schnitzler, 2016), I demonstrate the failed hegemony of the neoliberal project and the necessary anxieties it induced among managers and trade unions alike in an Eskom power station.

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