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'Real Men Reawaken Their Fathers' Homesteads, the Educated Leave Them in Ruins': the Politics of Domestic Reproduction in Post-Apartheid Rural South Africa1

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An historical ethnography of generational conflicts in a rural community in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, this paper engages debates on the consequences of global neo-liberalism in local contexts. Through cash from migrant labor, rural household heads exercised power over domestic economics. Ideologically this power translated into the symbolic articulation of two institutions of social reproduction-the school and initiation rite such that the educated and potentially alienated subjects yielded by the former were resocialized through the latter into local subjects of the chief and sons of their fathers. With rising unemployment rates since the 1980s, however, the older men lost the material base for their monopoly over this symbolic structure. The generational conflicts that ensued reflected at once the attendant contradictions in social consciousness and consequent struggles to renegotiate the symbolic purchase of the relations between schooling and initiation.

Affiliations: 1: Haverford College

10.1163/157006601X00257
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/content/journals/10.1163/157006601x00257
2001-01-01
2016-12-07

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