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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

With Mixed Feelings: Negotiating Coloured Identity in Post-Apartheid South Africa
by Yarwood, Janette, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2011, 279; 3478813
Abstract (Summary)

Mixed Feelings: Examining Coloured Identities in Post-Apartheid South Africa is a study of the historically “mixed-race” group that was officially classified as coloured under apartheid. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the racial hierarchy that regulated social relations in white-ruled South Africa has broken down, undermining basic assumptions and practices at the foundation of this ethno-racial category. This dissertation explores the diverse ways that coloured people construct and reconstruct colouredness: appropriating and layering various aspects of the past and the present—race, class, ethnicity, place and popular culture—to fashion identities that invoke apartheid constructions of coloured identity while affording opportunities to forge new identities that respond to the new, post-apartheid moment.

The dissertation is based on two years of ethnographic research conducted in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg between 2005 and 2008. In Mixed Feelings, I approach the study of coloured identity on multiple levels. I am interested in how the coloured community identifies from within as well as how it is identified from without; thus, in addition to extensive interviews, I analyze census data, published reports concerning the current economic profiles of different racial groups in South Africa, crime statistics, as well as data gathered from media sources such as local television, newspapers, and websites. This dissertation, focusing on race, ethnicity, class, globalization, and popular culture in South Africa, seeks to place these historical dynamics in a broader context through comparisons with both the United States and the Caribbean.

Based on this data, I address the particular techniques coloured people use to negotiate the coloured category within the new social, political and economic realities of contemporary South Africa. I am also concerned with understanding the strategies used by coloured activists and organizers and other South Africans to keep coloured people locked within the coloured category. By revealing the challenges coloured people face as they try to negotiate colouredness in contemporary South Africa, this dissertation contributes to theoretical discussions that ask how people negotiate their identity under conditions that limit their choices.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mullings, Leith
Commitee: Crehan, Kate, Robotham, Donald
School: City University of New York
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethnic studies, South African Studies
Keywords: Colored identity, Coloured people, Identity, Postapartheid, South Africa
Publication Number: 3478813
ISBN: 978-1-124-96647-2
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