See Mamdani make theory

For awhile (as part of the Mellon-funded research project into Media and Citizenship) whenever I have to think about citizenship theoretically in an African context I’ve been turning to Mahmood Mamdani’s wonderful book Citizen and Subject.

CitizentorefugeeAfter a year of working on this project (see our blog and my post  Speaking from the South) I’ve read a lot on citizenship, migrancy, refugees, minorities, rights, democratic regimes, etc, and still his voice — among all this wealth of information and theory — is the one that speaks loudest when I have to figure out how to approach what’s going on in South Africa today.

His idea that the colonial-imperial project lives on in the postcolonial African democracies today and gives us “bifurcated” states with two sets of political identity — actual citizenship for an elite and subject positions for all the rest, is a powerful and useful one. Continue reading “See Mamdani make theory”