Exploring the dualisms of 'belonging': Young women's performances of citizenship in Cape Town
My research involves a nuanced exploration of 'citizenship', through examining the liberatory potential of young women's use of social media and performance of embodied subjectivities in the post-Apartheid imaginary. By tracing expressions of self, specifically women’s highly imaginative efforts to represent what selfhood means to them and how it shapes their realities, I question conventional understandings of civic participation. The forms of communication and self-expression that many young women in Cape Town pursue are often considered apolitical, frivolous or trivial. By comprehensively exploring self-expression as a participant, I show that it is often richly but complicatedly politicized. My analysis is based on four women’s narratives and meaning-making processes, although my methodological approach involves detailed attention to my own location and interactions with participants. Guided by feminist explorations of the relevance of standpoint theorizing, I seek to understand the various visual and textual ways in which a small group of young women in Cape Town is currently making sense of their social identities, understandings of freedom and potential as social actors. I also draw on methodological work that questions the tendency, even among many feminist researchers, to reduce the knowledge of their participants to manageable data. In so doing, my aim is to try to make sense of the content and forms of young women's knowledge making on their own terms.