The struggle to be South African": cultural politics in Durban, contesting Indian identity in the public sphere.
John-Naidu, Aline Jeanette.
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South Africa officially emerged from apartheid in 1994. Almost a decade later we are still confronting the persisting legacies of apartheid. One of them is the separate spaces that were designed to foster delineated ethnic and racial identities. In the past, enforced separation encouraged the perpetuation of different cultural spheres. Now spaces have been made more permeable, but the ' officially' sanctioned identities still persist. At state level, the discourses of ' non-racialism ' and ' Rainbow Nation' are dominant, but at the local level, the old categories of Indian, Coloured, White and Black are often aggressively asserted. It is suggested that, although apartheid has ended, there exists in contemporary South Africa a heightened sense of ethnic identification. Indians in contemporary South Africa grapple with questions of their identity, their ' place' in the new South Africa, and (like other minority groups) express anxiety about being part of the majority of South African society. This disssertation examines a broadly defined Indian cultural sphere in Durban, in particular a public sphere related to media and religion, where old Indian identities retain currency and, at the same time, new articulations of identity are constantly being made. The role of public discourses in shaping such identities is examined in detail using data collected through interviews with Indian cultural leaders and media communications between 1999 and 2001. An interrogation of discourses prevalent in the public sphere exposes the inherent contradictions and complexities of attempts to (re)create such "essentialised" identities. This paper demonstrates that Indian-ness is a highly contested and hybrid identification.