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Home, family and intimacy in recent writings on and from South Africa


In recent works on intimacy and home in South Africa, scholars question the assumptions about where ‘home’ ends, and who counts as ‘family’. In calls for curriculum change and the transformation of the university (discourses that were about access for both black students and black faculty), these questions of affiliation and ‘home’ have played a prominent role. In the student protest movement of 2015 and 2016, for example, a recurring discourse was to invoke ‘our mothers, the domestic workers’. This was partly an attempt to forge links between the students’ demands and those of casualized cleaning and catering staff on campus, but the invocation of ‘our mothers, the domestic workers’ also underlined the lineage of the university as one associated with ‘the big house’ and many black students’ feelings of being tolerated, at best, in spaces that historically did not imagine them as full citizens, but instead as marginal to the home that is South Africa.

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K. Bystrom and S. Nuttall (2013) ‘Private lives and public cultures in South Africa’, Cultural Studies 27 (3): 307–32.

P. D. Gqola (2009) ‘“The difficult task of normalising freedom”: spectacular masculinities, Ndebele's literary/cultural commentary and post-apartheid life’, English in Africa 36 (1): 6176.

M. Sanders (2002) Complicities: the intellectual and apartheid. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

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  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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