Space, body and subjectivity : shifting conceptions of black African masculinities in four audio-visual texts.
Mngadi, Sikhumbuzo Richard.
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Research in constructions of masculinities in South Africa is already an established field, having in part developed out of the need to contextualise global theories in the social, economic and cultural realities of African subjects. In its turn, this research has engendered a number of focused studies which have sought to depart from the traditional ‘men’s studies’ paradigm. Needless to say, studies in constructions of masculinities have infused the traditional paradigm with a new vitality. This thesis proceeds from the premise that to be a man in (South) Africa and elsewhere is contingent upon a diversity of social, economic, political, generational and cultural expectations. I argue that these expectations, which are linked variously to status, sexual orientation and choice, mean that recognition of gender subjectivity as performed must take precedence over the idea of a stable gender role. And, at times, this applies with more force in African societies, traditional and modern (or, as is often the case, a confluence of both), than it does in western ones where class, rather than the complex intersection of tradition and modernity, tends to set gender identities on a more stable platform. I then propose the view that a nuanced conceptualisation of masculinities in South Africa needs to inform analysis of representations of men and women, and I do so by means of an in-depth critical analysis of the shifting conceptions of black African men and women in Shaka Zulu (1986), Mapantsula (1988), Fools (1998) and Yizo Yizo 1 (1999).