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Melancholia of FreedomSocial Life in an Indian Township in South Africa$
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Thomas Blom Hansen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152950

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152950.001.0001

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Autonomy, Freedom, and Political Speech

Autonomy, Freedom, and Political Speech

(p.142) Chapter 4 Autonomy, Freedom, and Political Speech
Melancholia of Freedom

Thomas Blom Hansen

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the development of political institutions of autonomy that were designed for Indians during the apartheid years. It unravels the pervasive sense of unreality and absurdity that accompanied the heavily circumscribed functions of these bodies and how this consolidated an already pervasive disengagement from the world of politics in the township. From the 1980s, representative politics became subsumed under a larger imperative of enjoyment and self-deprecating humor. Political figures and their speech are still not read literally but are transposed into a form of entertainment and performance that is enjoyed at a distance. This apprehension regarding the world of politics is clearly more pronounced among non-African communities in South Africa but still defines an important and ill-understood dimension of the postapartheid unhappy consciousness.

Keywords:   autonomy, Indian, apartheid, township politics, disengagement, representative politics, non-African communities, postapartheid

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