Reframing Xenophobia in South Africa as Colour-Blind: The Limits of the Afro Phobia Thesis
Keywords:Afro-phobia, citizenship, colour-blind xenophobia, migration, South Africa
Many scholars and South African politicians characterize the widespread anti-foreigner sentiment and violence in South Africa as dislike against migrants and refugees of African origin which they named ‘Afro-phobia’. Drawing on online newspaper reports and academic sources, this paper rejects the Afro-phobia thesis and argues that other non-African migrants such as Asians (Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Chinese) are also on the receiving end of xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa. I contend that any ‘outsider’ (White, Asian or Black African) who lives and trades in South African townships and informal settlements is scapegoated and attacked. I term this phenomenon ‘colour-blind xenophobia’. By proposing this analytical framework and integrating two theoretical perspectives — proximity-based ‘Realistic Conflict Theory (RCT)’ and Neocosmos’ exclusivist citizenship model — I contend that xenophobia in South Africa targets those who are in close proximity to disadvantaged Black South Africans and who are deemed outsiders (e.g., Asian, African even White residents and traders) and reject arguments that describe xenophobia in South Africa as targeting Black African refugees and migrants.
Abdi, C. (2011). Moving beyond xenophobia: Structural violence, conflict and encounters with the ‘other’ Africans. Development Southern Africa 28 (5): 691–704. https://doi.org/10.1080/0376835X.2011.623916
Adjai, C. & Lazaridis, G. (2013). Migration, Xenophobia and New Racism in Post-Apartheid South Africa. International Journal of Social Science Studies 1(1): 192–205. URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v1i1.102
Africa Check. (20 April 2015). Are foreigners ‘stealing jobs’ in South Africa?
Akinola, A. O. (2014). South Africa and the two faces of xenophobia: A critical reflection.
Africa Peace and Conflict Journal 7(1): 56–67.
Allison, S. (10 Nov 2015). Attacks on migrants show failure to stem racial tension.
Althusser, L. (1971). On Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Notes Towards an Investigation. In Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. London: New Left Books, pp. 121–73.
Beinart, W. & Dubow, S. (1995). Introduction: the historiography of segregation and
Apartheid. In W. Beinart & Dubow, S. (Eds.), Segregation and apartheid in twentieth
century South Africa (pp. 1–24). London: Routledge.
Canetti-Nisim, D. & Pedahzur, A. (2003). Contributory factors to Political Xenophobia in a multi-cultural society: the case of Israel . International Journal of Intercultural Relations 27: 307–333. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0147-1767(03)00014-2
Cell, J. (1982). The highest stage of white supremacy: the origins of segregation in South
Africa and the American South. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chinomona, E. & Maziriri, E. (2015). Examining the phenomenon of xenophobia
as experienced by African immigrant entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, South Africa: Intensifying
the spirit of ubuntu. International Journal of Research in Business Studies and Management
(6): 20–31. http://www.ijrbsm.org/pdf/v2-i6/4.pdf
Christopher, A. (1997). Racial land zoning in urban South Africa. Land Use Policy 14(4):
–323. DOI: 10.1016/S0264-8377(97)00025-2
Crush, J. Ramachandran, S., & Pendleton, W. (2013). Soft targets: Xenophobia,
public violence And changing attitudes to migrants in South Africa after May 2008. Southern
African Migration Project Series 64. Cape Town: Southern African Migration Project.
Crush, J., Tawodzera, G., McCordic, C., & Ramachandran, S. (2017). Refugee Entrepreneurial Economies in Urban South Africa (rep. i-40). Waterloo, ON: Southern African Migration Programme. SAMP Migration Policy Series No. 76.
Esses, V., Jackson, L., & Armstrong, T. (1998). Intergroup competition and attitudes toward immigrants and immigration: An instrumental model of group conflict. Journal of Social Issues 54: 699–724. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1998.tb01244.x
Frederickson, G. (1981). White supremacy: a comparative study in American and South
African history. New York: Oxford University Press.
Foucault, M. (1980). Power/Knowledge. U.K.: Harvester.
Gordon, S. L. (2010). Migrants in a state of exception: Xenophobia and the role of the post- apartheid state. Contemporary social issues in Africa, African Institute of South Africa. (pp. 45–64). Pretoria.
Gordon, S. L. (2016). Xenophobia across the class divide: South African attitudes towards foreigners 2003–2012. Journal of Contemporary African Studies 33(4): 494–509. https://doi.org/10.1080/02589001.2015.1122870
Gqirana, T. (14 Apr 2015). Police Minister: KZN attacks are not just xenophobic.
Guelke, A. (2005). Rethinking the rise and fall of Apartheid. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Handmaker, J., & Parsley, J. (2001). Migration, refugees, and racism in South Africa.
Refugee Reception and Integration 20(1): 40–51.
Harris, B. (2002). Xenophobia: A New Pathology for a New South Africa? In: D. Hook & E. Gillian (Eds.), Psychopathology and Social Prejudice. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press.
Hjerm, M. & Nagayosh, K. (2011). The composition of the minority population as a threat: Can real economic and cultural threats explain xenophobia? International Sociology 26 (6): 1–29
Keegan, T. (1996). Colonial South Africa and the origins of the racial order.
Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia.
Landau, Lo. B., Ramjathan-Keogh, K., & Gayatri, S. (2005). Xenophobia in South Africa and Problems Related to It. FMSP Working Paper Series 13. Johannesburg, FMSP.
Landau, L. B. (2010). Loving the alien? Citizenship, law and the future in South Africa's
demonic Society. African Affairs 109(435): 213–230. DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adq002
Langa, M., & Kiguwa, P. (2016). Race-ing xenophobic violence: Engaging social representations of the black African body in post-apartheid South Africa. Agenda 30 (2): 75–85. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10130950.2016.1222086
Madue, S. M. (2015). South Africa’s foreign and migration policies missteps: fuels of xenophobic eruptions? Td The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, Special edition 11(4): 60–70. https://hdl.handle.net/10520/EJC185077
Mamabolo, A. (2015). Drivers of community xenophobic attacks in South Africa: poverty and unemployment. TD: The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa 11(4): 143–150. https://hdl.handle.net/10520/EJC185071
Matsinhe, D. (2011). Africa’s Fear of Itself: The Ideology of Makwerekwere in South Africa. Third World Quarterly 32(2): 295–313. https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2011.560470
McKnight, J. (2008). Through the Fear: A Study of Xenophobia in South Africa’s Refugee System. Journal of Identity and Migration Studies 2 (2): 18–42.
Meny-Gibert, S., & Chiumia, S. (2017). Factsheet: Where do South Africa’s international migrants come from? https://africacheck.org/factsheets/geography-migration/
Mngxitama, A. (2008). We are not all like that: Race,Class and Nation after Apartheid. In H. Shireen, K. Tawana & W. Eric (Eds.), Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press. 2008.
Mosselson, A. (2010). There is no difference between citizens and non-citizens anymore: Violent Xenophobia, Citizenship and the Politics of Belonging in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies 36(3): 641–655. https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2010.507570
Mothibi, K. A., Roelofse, C. J., & Thompho, T. (2015). Xenophobic attacks on foreign shop owners and street vendors in Louis Trichardt Central Business District, Limpopo Province. TD The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa 11(4): 151–162. http://hdl.handle.net/10394/16462
Mutandiro, K. (03 September 2018) Xenophobia triumphs in Gauteng.
Ndinda, C., & Ndhlovu, T. P. (2016). Attitudes towards foreigners in informal settlements targeted for upgrading in South Africa: A gendered perspective. Agenda 108/30.2: 131–146. http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/10872
Neocosmos, M. (2006). From ‘Foreign Natives’ to ‘Native Foreigners’: Explaining Xenophobia in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Dakar: CODESRIA. 2006.
Neocosmos, M. (2008). The politics of fear and the fear of politics: reflections on xenophobic violence in South Africa. Journal of Asian and African Studies 43(6): 586–594. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021909608096655
News 24. (24 July 2012). Xenophobic attacks - pattern changing
Pereira, C., Vala, J., & Costa-Lopes, R. (2010). From prejudice to discrimination: The legitimizing role of perceived threat in discrimination against immigrants. European Journal of Social Psychology 40: 1231–1250. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.718
Sanchez-Mazas, M., & Licata, L. (2015). Xenophobia: Social Psychological Aspects. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (second edition). 802-807. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.24031-2
Sherif, M. (1988). The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation. [Orig. pub. as Intergroup Conflict and Group Relations]. Published by: Wesleyan University Press
Statistics South Africa. (2012). Income and Expenditure of Households 2010/2011: Statistical
release. P0100. http://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P0100/P01002011.pdf
Statistics South Africa. (2015). Documented immigrants in South Africa, 2014.
Tafira, K. (2011). Is xenophobia racism? Anthropology Southern Africa 34(3 & 4): 114–121. https://doi.org/10.1080/23323256.2011.11500015
Tsheola, J., Ramoroka, T., & Muzondi, L. (2015). Xenophobic societal attitudes in a ‘new’ South Africanism: Governance of public perceptions, national identities and citizenship. Td The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, Special edition 11(4): 232-246. http://hdl.handle.net/10394/16467
Tshishonga, N. (2015). The Impact of Xenophobia-Afrophobia on The Informal Economy In Durban CBD, South Africa. Td The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, Special edition 11(4): 163–179. http://hdl.handle.net/10394/16463
UNHCR. (2017). “What is a refugee?”. The UN Refugee Agency.
Velasco, G.K., Verkuyten, M., Weesie, J., & Poppe, E. (2008). Prejudice towards Muslims in The Netherlands: Testing integrated threat theory. British Journal of Social Psychology: 47(4): 667. DOI: 10.1348/014466608X284443
Vandeyar, S. (2011). Immigrant students’ shifting identifications in South African
schools. International Journal of Educational Development 32(2): 232–240. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2011.03.006
Warner, C., & Finchilescu, G. (2003). Living with Prejudice - Xenophobia and Race. Agenda 55: 36–44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4066297
Winant, H. (2004). The New Politics of Race: Globalism, Difference, Justice. Minneapolis,
MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Yakushko, O. (2009). Xenophobia: Understanding the Roots and Consequences of Negative Attitudes toward Immigrants. The Counseling Psychologist 37(1): 36–66. doi: 10.1177/0011000008316034