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(Un)bearable conditions: bureaucratic imperatives, spaces, subjects and relationships in Southern Africa

Grant number: 23/08413-4
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: April 01, 2024 - March 31, 2026
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Laura Moutinho
Grantee:Laura Moutinho
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers: Bernard Dubbeld ; Charles Howard Klein ; Cynthia Andersen Sarti ; Fernanda Pinto de Almeida ; Fiona Chiswell Ross ; Milena Mateuzi Carmo ; Paulo Sérgio da Costa Neves


From a perspective that combines historical and ethnographic research, this project will focus on the moral economy that places gender and sexuality as operators of racial relations in the production of class inequality in a city in the Western Cape province, in South Africa. It starts from the understanding that the first apartheid law, the Mixed Marriage Act, which criminalizes interracial marriages, refounds the State and reconfigures the urban space through the force of a whitening project that articulates with the reconstruction of the nation in essentialist racial terms. More specifically, in the midst of processes of violence by the State (which oscillates between rational and magical modes), the objective is to understand in a historical and ethnographic perspective not only how the affected subjects and their families reoccupied the signs of violation, but also how, in a specific local context, those classified as White managed, concomitantly, the benefit and privileges they received from the classification system. This project is also interested in questioning the humanist moral conscience, which sustains the recent democracy, from three axes: following the point of view of the subjects who experienced the constraints on the part of the apartheid system; based on affirmative action policies aimed at education and testimonies given to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The moment for this research becomes particularly relevant, as South Africa is about to complete 30 years of democracy. Brazil will be a counterpoint to this project, managed sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly. (AU)

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