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Publication . Doctoral thesis . 2022

Sentiments of Segregation : The Emotional Politics of Apartheid in South Africa, c. 1948-1990

Kirkby, Jagger;
Open Access
English
Published: 11 Feb 2022
Publisher: Lund University (Media-Tryck)
Country: Sweden
Abstract
This dissertation studies the relationship between emotions and the everday application of apartheid in South Africa between 1948 and 1990. Histories of apartheid have long been politics-driven, focusing on the rise and fall of the regime with its reception being studied primarily through the lens of the popular struggle that, in part, led to apartheid’s downfall. Thus, the lived experience and reception on the ground of everyday racial segregation in South Africa during the National Party era, remains to a degree unexplored. While apartheid was expressed through multiple practices, the so-called ‘petty’ apartheid sphere, I argue, proffered opportunities for racial notions to be installed in the individual on a consistent basis. From this point of departure, I ask what role emotions, when thought of theoretically as biocultural entities, played in creating, naturalising and undermining the logics of race, as well as class and gender, that petty apartheid laws reflected and sought to cultivate. In three empirical chapters, which each focuses on a specific piece of petty apartheid legislation, I draw out so-called ‘emotional encounters’ from a source material produced chiefly by the bureaucracy, the judicature, and the press, as well as supplementary material in the form of autobiography, parliamentary debates, fiction, and legislative texts to interrogate the operation and experience of apartheid. In what resembles a discourse analysis, I explore episodes emerging as a result of the segregation of recreational space, the prohibition of interracial romantic relationships and the application of the socially constructed ontology of race that accompanied official race classifications and the opportunity to be ‘re-classified’. I discuss what these encounters tell us about how emotions mark differences between individuals and define social communities and furthermore inquire into what they potentially reveal about the relative longevity of apartheid.The first chapter shows how specific emotions such as anger, pain and disgust pertaining to the use of otherwise ‘happy places’ worked to sustain racial hierarchies and ideology within the context of recreational space. The second chapter homes in on the apparent importance of employing successful emotion management in accordance with racialised and gendered standards with regards to interracial love and sex. The third chapter revolves around the disjunctions for individuals between their ‘emotional’ and social communities that apartheid-era race classification and re-classification cases laid bare. In the concluding chapter and epilogue, I argue that petty apartheid laws enforced a constant, everyday experience of racialised social and emotional control. For segregation to endure, racial logics and ideology would have to be ‘felt’ by those who lived it. While feelings are culturally informed, their ability to operate as markers of truth lie in that to the individual or the community, they seldom manifest themselves as anything other than natural, innate, entities. This fact, paradoxically, also means that those historical subjects who transgressed established emotional norms, did so because what they knew to be ‘right’, to them, felt wrong. In this way, emotions could also defy and challenge racialised structures. Tentatively, the dissertation suggests that cultures of emotion, when conceived of as a form of internalised habits, evolve at a slower rate than formal political or societal changes. Indeed, newer research shows that many of the examples of racialised emotional practice that this dissertation covers, endure in contemporary South African society.
Subjects

History, apartheid, history of emotions, South Africa, race and racism, cultural history, Segregation

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