View grantees in the Image Library

Torkelson, Erin Marie

Grant Type
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation
California, Berkeley, U. of
Completed Grant
Approve Date
Project Title
Torkelson, Erin Marie, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'The Black Tax: Gender, Generation and Youth Politics in South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Gillian Hart

ERIN TORKELSON, then a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley, California, received a grant in April 2015 to aid research on 'The Black Tax: Gender Generation and Youth Politics in South Africa,' supervised by Dr. Gillian Hart. This dissertation research explores the ongoing relationship between the Eastern and Western Cape, with a particular focus on the ways amaXhosa South Africans strive to build two homes in an era of extreme economic insecurity. Colonialism and apartheid spatially bifurcated South African life through mass dispossession and incarceration of black South Africans in rural homelands and forced labor migration to mining compounds and urban industrial centers. The present-day migratory condition of South Africans is often understood as a mere legacy of racist apartheid structures, but 22 years after democracy, amaXhosa people continue to transform and intensify rural-urban connections. Much literature either denigrates migration as the primary cause of the 'break-down' of the South African family or celebrates migration as a form of resistance through the upkeep of 'tradition.' Contrary to these portrayals, this research engages the complex life worlds of amaXhosa families and their material, spatial and embodied journeys between homes. Work shows how movements across the Eastern and Western Cape are gendered and generational struggles over power and belonging in amaXhosa communities. Through the trans-Cape circulation of children, houses, ceremonies, grants, violence, and other things, Xhosa families struggle over relations and mitigate against dispossessions suffered in the past and present.