Kinship, Ethics, And The Everyday In South Africa

Incorporation and dependence have become key questions in confronting the ordinary challenge of staying alive in post-Apartheid South Africa. How have colonial categories of tribe, ethnos, clan, invented and enlivened through anthropology’s obsession with alliance and descent, lived on in ordinary languages of intimacy and belonging? More broadly, how are the categories we construct taken up and reimagined in everyday efforts to constitute oneself in relation to others? Thinking through the various forms of obligation, dependence, and mutuality that appear in contemporary life in South Africa and the South, what methods, techniques, and concepts are available for thinking about “life” and “the living” in relational terms? If mutuality is the bedrock for imagining social and political life, as some have suggested, what of its other faces (identitarianism, sectarianism, exclusion, self-interest)? How is the ethical constituted through and by diverse articulations of obligation and relatedness? Finally, how are practices of relatedness entangled with categories for thinking about belonging and what it means to be human?