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Local music and identity: a study of the signifiers of South African identity embedded in the South African Music Awards’ ‘Record of the Year’ listings from 2013 to 2018.

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This research paper explores the concept of a local identity through the gaze of a postapartheid South Africa. In discussing ‘local’, this study explores pertinent discourse surrounding what could be deemed as the South African experience. This study makes use of a Grounded Theory methodological approach. This particular methodology was used in order to ensure that all findings within the context of this study are strongly based on observations, i.e. the data, and not pre-established hypotheses. This process consequently necessitates the contextualisation of quantitative information because it is by means of this that we allow numerical data to reflect lived experience. In doing so, it allows for a re-contextualisation of the ‘local’ ideology in the context of the South African music industry. This is achieved through an analysis of the South African Music Awards’ Record of the Year category as an historical cache of the music of the time period in question. Through an understanding of the heterogeneous and intersectional nature of local identity(s), this study makes reference to a number of broad identities which have been pinpointed as being useful signifiers for our understanding of the post-apartheid South African society. This dissertation is rooted in the belief that local identity is grounded in a capitalistic society which is inherently built on principles of historic imposition, racialism and patriarchy. It is argued that the historic imposition present in contemporary South Africa contributes substantially to what it means to be a South African, and is inherent in the way we think or see ourselves. This represents what could be seen as a revision Stuart Hall’s ‘circuit of culture’ (1997).


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.