Date of Submission

Fall 2013

Academic Program

Human Rights

Project Advisor 1

Thomas Keenan

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Through ethnographic investigation into the lives of economic migrants from South Africa’s neighbouring countries and analysis of South Africa’s post- Apartheid nation-building project and immigration policies, this paper situates the lived experiences of migrants into a larger structure of South African politics, while also proving the state’s appropriation of a rights-based approach to mask their exclusionary intentions. After Apartheid, the South African government built a nation-state through the promotion of national inclusivity, expressed through the ideas of non- racialism and the rainbow nation, while establishing an immigration policy intent on excluding black African workers. Further than failing to recognize a system of labour entrenched within the country’s history, and which they still depend on, this approach produced and justified xenophobic attitudes. Interviews with migrant farm workers bring forth stories of poverty and fear, where low-skilled Mozambicans and Zimbabweans become subjects of structural violence and victims of xenophobic abuse. The policies promoted by the state justify the ill-treatment of migrants, who must find ways to adapt and survive in a country actively excluding them.

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