Shosholoza: Political Culture in South Africa between the Secular and the Occult

Steffen Bo Jensen

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    In this article, I explore the relationship between two central strands in contemporary political culture in South Africa, the secular and the occult. These two strands are often seen as running parallel to one another and perceived as mutually exclusive, where one is dominant while the other is confined to obscurity and rendered invisible. Contrary to this view, I argue that historically both strands have co-existed in South Africa, and further that they animate one another. Indeed in South African politics the secular and the occult co-exist interdependently; their separation is a practice that legitimates specific forms of politics and the formation of political culture. I explore and illustrate the co-dependency and intertwining of these political strands through ethnographic data collected in Mpumalanga between 2002 and 2006 relating to witchcraft accusations. I relate this material to scholarly literature on South African capitalism and generational hierarchies. Through this analysis I wish to contribute to current discussions about political culture in order to transcend narrow understandings of what constitute politics in South Africa and beyond.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)91-106
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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