Struggles for Citizenship in South Africa

Conway, D. 2014. Struggles for Citizenship in South Africa. in: Isin, E.F. and Nyers, P. (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies London Routledge. pp. 240-251

Chapter titleStruggles for Citizenship in South Africa
AuthorsConway, D.
EditorsIsin, E.F. and Nyers, P.
Abstract

South Africa’s first democratic constitution of 1996, which defines the content and scope of citizenship, emerged out of what the country’s Constitutional Court accurately described as ‘a deeply divided society characterized by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice which generated gross violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian principles in violent conflicts and a legacy of hatred, fear, guilt and revenge’ (cited in Jagwanth, 2003: 7). The constitution was internationally noteworthy for its expressed protection of women’s and sexual minority rights and its extension of rights of citizenship to socio-economic rights, such as rights of adequate healthcare, housing and education (SAGI, 1996). During South Africa’s first two decades of democracy, the Constitutional Court has proven its independence by advancing citizenship rights on a number of occasions (O’Regan, 2012). The struggle for citizenship was at the heart of the liberation struggle against the apartheid regime and within the complex dynamics of the anti-apartheid movement, increasingly sophisticated and intersectional demands for citizenship were made. South Africa’s constitutional rights for citizenship are not always matched in practice. The country’s high rates of sexual violence, ongoing poverty and inequality and public attitudes towards the rights of sexual minorities and immigrants lag well behind the spirit and letter of the constitution. Nevertheless, the achievement of formal citizenship rights in South Africa was the result of a prolonged and complex liberation struggle and analysis of South Africa demonstrates Werbner’s claim that ‘struggles over citizenship are thus struggles over the very meaning of politics and membership in a community’ (1999: 221). This chapter will begin with a contextual and historical overview before moving onto analyzing the development of non-racialism as a basis for citizenship, non-sexism and gendered citizenship, contestations of white, militarized citizenship and the achievement of sexual citizenship by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights movement. As shall be made clear, all these citizenship demands emerged during the decades of the country’s liberation struggle.

KeywordsSouth Africa; citizenship; LGBT rights; apartheid; Constitution; women's rights
Book titleRoutledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies
Page range240-251
Year2014
PublisherRoutledge
FileConway Struggles_for_Citizenship_in_South_Afric.pdf
Publication dates
Published27 Jun 2014
Place of publicationLondon
ISBN9780415519724

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