Traversing racial boundaries: thoughts on a rainbow nation

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This research begins to reflect on how multiracial families navigate racialised difference in everyday life in South Africa. It utilises qualitative data collected in both Mahikeng and Cape Town, to throw light on various people’s lived experience of race in South Africa, whilst concurrently drawing from the large discourse on race in South Africa and elsewhere. The findings suggest that multiracial families are interacting with the remnants of Apartheid still evident in South Africa - most notably in discourses of racially homogenous kinship and racial categorisation – whilst concurrently thinking about new ways to engage with and envision possibilities beyond the dominant discourses of race evident in South Africa at present. These possibilities take the forms of recognising kinship which crosses racial and biological boundaries, engaging with the limitations of Apartheid racial categorisation in a space where Apartheid and all legislation pertaining to interracial relationships has been dismantled, and formulating new language with which to accommodate racial diversity. This implies that whilst South Africa remains haunted by its past, possibilities for alternative ways of engaging with race are emerging. The research contributes to on-going debates about how racialized difference is accommodated within post-apartheid South Africa. It allows for critical reflection on (a) the state of the family in South Africa; (b) formations of difference and similarity and(c) the ways in which historically racialised discourse and practice remain embedded in everyday social interactions.

Includes bibliographical references.