Respectable Mothers, Tough Men and Good Daughters Producing Persons in Manenberg Township South Africa.
Salo, Elaine Rosa
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This ethno a h explores the mean in s of personhood and agency in Maneberg a township located on the Cape Flats, in Cape Town South Africa. The township was a site of relocation for people who were classified coloured during the apartheid era and who were forcibly removed from newly declared white areas in the city in the 1960s I argue that despite the old apartheid state's attempts to reify the meaning of colouredness through racial legislation,\the residents of Manenberg created their own meanings of personhood, agency and community within the bureaucratic, social and economic interstices of the apartheid systems Yet at the same time they also reinstated the very structural processes at the heart of their racial and gendered subjugation. I indicate how the cohesiveness of the Rio Street community in Manenberg, the survival of its residents and their validation as respectable mothers, tough men and good daughters hinged on and effloresced from a moral economy that articulated with the structural location of coloured women in the apartheid economy and racial bureaucracy. I draw upon the writings of Fortes (1969), Giddens (1984) and Karp (1995) to elaborate upon the concept personhood in Manenberg. I show how the local understandings of personhood provide residents with agency, whilst connecting the latter to township history and apartheid social structure, thereby illustrating its limits. The concept personhood captures the duality of existence of Manenberg residents and maps out their negotiation and contestation about personhood and agency. I use Hobart (1990) and Kratz (2000) to indicate that lagency in Manenberg is complex and is situationally determined~Finally I utilise the theoretical insights of Donham (1999) to indicate that Manenberg's social, economic and historical location in the South African context allows for several notions of personhood to prevail in the township. These notions are grounded in the multiple, interconnected, hierarchically ordered, competing cultural and economic systems of production at the local, national and global levels. This complex location of Manenberg residents generates multiple constructs of inequality, power and agency that impinge upon each other and that are reflected in the contestations about personhood in diverse township spaces.