The silencing of race at Rhodes : ritual and anti-politics on a post-apartheid campus

Goga, S. (2009) The silencing of race at Rhodes : ritual and anti-politics on a post-apartheid campus. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Almost fifteen years after democracy, issues of 'race' still hold daily South African life firmly in its grip. Following calls from foremost South African theorists on 'race', such as Sarah Nuttall, this thesis moves beyond a study of crude 'racism', to the more complex consideration of 'race' as an embedded ideological social formation within the spatial context of Rhodes University. Using analytical concepts such as 'silencing' and 'ritual' the thesis weaves an understanding (1) of how particular powerful representations of institutional history are produced and made dominant, and (2) how seemingly innocuous performances of institutional identity are key to reproducing 'racial' dominance within Rhodes' student life. This ultimately manifests in the production of a deeply 'racialized' commonsensical understanding of the 'most' legitimate and authentic representation and ownership of institutional space. The thesis delves into dominant representations of Rhodes University'S history, considering how these help produce and reproduce 'racial' dominance through, for instance, the production of defining apolitical narratives of 'excellence'. Central to the dominant apolitical institutional history is the production of silences about the past. History, I argue, is less compelling in any revelation of 'what happened' than in illustrating the production of silences used to enable the appropriation of a particular history as the sole relevant history. The 'inheritors of the past', those who are able to lay authoritative and representative claim to it, it is argued, ultimately claim ownership over institutional space. I argue too, that the dominant practices and performances of daily institutional life (re)produce the institutional space as a space of 'racial' dominance. Ritualized performance of the dominant institutional identity produces ownership of institutional space through making some articulations of 'Rhodes identity' more acceptable, legitimate and authentic than others. The dominance of 'drinking culture' in Rhodes student life produces a particular 'racialized' institutional identity as most legitimate. 'Racial' dominance is instituted, consecrated and reproduced through the ritualistic performance of 'drinking culture', which ultimately produces a superior claim of ownership over the institutional space through the reiteration of racial domination that these performances of institutional identity powerfully symbolize.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Race; silencing; social reproduction; ritual
Subjects:J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Political Studies and International Studies
Supervisors:Vincent, L. (Prof.)
ID Code:1703
Deposited By: Nicolene Mvinjelwa
Deposited On:22 Jun 2010 10:09
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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