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Title: Imagining the Post-Apartheid state : an ethnographic account of Namibia
Author: Friedman, J. T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2004
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Two main threads - one theoretical, one empirical - wind themselves through the dissertation entitled Imagining the Post-Apartheid State: An Ethnographic Account of Namibia. At the theoretical level, the dissertation is a methodological exploration into the potentialities of ethnographic description. One of its central aims is to help re-focus the traditional anthropological gaze away from a particular community of people in favour of the State itself. In this sense, the dissertation explores how one might research and write an ethnography of the State, and, in doing so, contribute to, and expand upon, a multi-disciplinary debate centring on ‘the State’ and state processes (especially in Africa). Based on fifteen months of fieldwork in an urban setting in Kaokoland (Kunene Region) the dissertation relies heavily upon the concept of political imagination. Local people’s political imaginings, it is argued, are not without effect. They are not simply products of the State, but they are also productive of the State, and thus an essential component of it. Kaokolanders’ political imaginations, therefore, serve as a prism through which to refract the post-apartheid Namibian State. In applying the concept of state-related political imagination to encompass the different ways Kaokoland-connected Namibians perceive and talk about represent and construct, the experience the Namibian State, the space is created to analyse state process as something that occurs only at the level of national government, but also in the everyday lives and practices of ordinary people. To this end, the dissertation’s empirical focus aims to detail political imagination in Kaokoland, and it does so by considering a number of interrelated themes. In particular, it addresses representations of the former South African apartheid regime in Namibia and the present independent government; it compares the perceptions and manifestations of law and courts, both state and customary; it considers the historical trajectory of a local factional dispute as a way to reflect upon traditional leadership and state power in Kaokoland; and it examines everyday forms of belonging with respect to ‘families’, kin networks, tribe, and nation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available