Advertisement

Indian Identity in South Africa

  • Kathryn PillayEmail author
Reference work entry
  • 29 Downloads

Abstract

After the first democratic election took place in 1994, a commitment was made, by the ANC led government, to “nonracialism” based on a Constitution, adopted in 1996, which was inclusive of all who lived in the country. This chapter argues that even though the democratic state acknowledges South Africans of Indian descent as part of the national discourse, it nevertheless still perpetuates the notion of essential “differences” between “peoples” which originated in colonialism was entrenched further after the formation of the Union and legitimized through various policies during apartheid. This continuation of such “race” classification in legislated and bureaucratic form, conflates race and ethnicity, and ensures racialization and “race thinking,” which is evident in self-perceptions and the perceptions of “others.” The argument is demonstrated by examining the role of the South African state historically in the maintenance of racial categories which in turn allow “Indians” to be stereotyped, homogenized, and labeled as a separate and distinct group. This formal process ultimately results in the confirmed perception of them as “a people” or “community” with fixed and essentialized identities and ultimately “belonging” to another country, to which they could easily “return,” as evidenced by calls to “go home” echoed at various points in time during the post-1994 democratic era. Processes of othering and anti-“Indian” sentiment, reminiscent of the political eras prior to democracy, persist therefore in public and popular discourse in contemporary South African society and are exposed at various junctures.

Keywords

Indian Race South Africa Classification Xenophobia Identity 

References

  1. Balibar E, Wallerstein I (1991) Race, nation and class: ambiguous identities. Verso, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Bass O, Erwin K, Kinners A, Maré G (2012) The possibilities of researching non-racialism: reflections on racialism in South Africa. Politikon 39:29–40Google Scholar
  3. Bhana S (1997a) Gandhi’s legacy: the Natal Indian Congress 1894–1994. University of Natal Press, PietermaritzburgGoogle Scholar
  4. Bhana S (1997b) Indianness reconfigured 1944–1960: the Natal Indian Congress in South Africa. Comp Stud South Asia Afr Middle East 17:100–107Google Scholar
  5. Christopher AJ (2001) The atlas of a changing South Africa. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Christopher AJ (2002) ‘To define the indefinable’: population classification and the census in South Africa. Area 34(4):401–408Google Scholar
  7. Christopher AJ (2009) Delineating the nation: South African censuses 1865–2007. Polit Geogr 28:101–109Google Scholar
  8. Cornell S, Hartmann D (1998) Ethnicity and race: making identities in a changing world. Pine Forge, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  9. Davenport TRH (1991) South Africa: a modern history. Macmillan Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Desai A, Padayachee V, Reddy K, Vahed G (2002) Blacks in whites: a century of cricket struggles in KwaZulu-Natal. University of Natal Press, PietermaritzburgGoogle Scholar
  11. Ebr.-Vally R (2001) Kala pani: caste and colour in South Africa. Kwela Books, Cape TownGoogle Scholar
  12. Edwards E (1992) Introduction. In: Edwards E (ed) Anthropology and photography: 1860–1920. Yale University Press, New Haven, pp 3–17Google Scholar
  13. Erasmus Y (2007) Racial (re)classification during apartheid South Africa: regulations, experiences and the meaning(s) of race. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. St George’s, University of LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Erasmus Z (2008) Race. In: Shepherd N, Robins S (eds) New South African keywords. Ohio University Press, Ohio, pp 169–182Google Scholar
  15. Freund B (1995) Insiders and outsiders: the Indian working class of Durban, 1910–1990. University of Natal Press, PietermaritzburgGoogle Scholar
  16. Gell CWM (1951) The Indians in South Africa. Fortnightly 176:429–438Google Scholar
  17. Ginwala F (1977) Indian South Africans. Minority Rights Group 34:5–20Google Scholar
  18. Gorra M (1997) After empire: Scott, naipaul, rushdie. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  19. Govender R (2010, 6 June) The glory days: football was once the most popular sport among Indians. Sunday Tribune, p 33Google Scholar
  20. Gwala V (2010, 5 June) Self-made businessman with a passion for education. The Independent on Saturday, p 7Google Scholar
  21. Hinkle S, Brown R (1990) Intergroup comparisons and social identity: some links and lacunae. In: Abrams D, Hogg MA (eds) Social identity theory: constructive and critical advances. Springer, New York, pp 48–70Google Scholar
  22. Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ, Ryan P (2005) Roberts birds of southern Africa. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape TownGoogle Scholar
  23. Jacobs K, Manzi T (2000) Evaluating the social constructionist paradigm in housing research. Hous Theory Soc 17:35–42Google Scholar
  24. Jagarnath V (2009) “Filmi very filmi”. The influence of popular Indian film in shaping the cultural and social identity of the diasporic community of South African Indians. In: Klemencic M, Harris MN (eds) European migrants, diasporas and indigenous ethnic minorities. Pisa University Press, Pisa, pp 197–209Google Scholar
  25. Khoapa B (2007) A heritage and arena for struggle and development. In: Rosenberg L (ed) Wellspring of hope: the legacy of a sports field. Durban University of Technology, Durban, p 25Google Scholar
  26. Klotz A (1997) International relations and migration in Southern Africa. African Security Review 6:38–45Google Scholar
  27. Lerner G (1997) Why history matters: life and thought. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Maasdorp G, Pillay N (1977) Urban relocation and racial segregation: the case of Indian South Africans. University of Natal Press, DurbanGoogle Scholar
  29. MacDonald M (2006) Why race matters in South Africa. University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, PietermaritzburgGoogle Scholar
  30. Mamdani M (2001, 8 August) Making sense of non-revolutionary violence: some lessons from the Rwandan genocide. Paper presented at the Frantz Fanon Lecture, University of Durban-Westville, DurbanGoogle Scholar
  31. Maré G (2011) ‘Fear of numbers’: reflections on the South African case. Curr Sociol 59:616–634Google Scholar
  32. Maré G, Hamilton G (1987) An appetite for power: Buthelezi’s Inkatha and South Africa. Ravan Press, JohannesburgGoogle Scholar
  33. Mbeki T (1996, 8 May) Statement of Deputy President TM Mbeki, on behalf of the ANC, on the occasion of the adoption by the Constitutional Assembly of The Republic of South Africa Constitution Bill 1996. https://www.mbeki.org/2016/06/01/i-am-an-african-speech-by-president-thabo-mbeki-8-may-1996/. Accessed 5 Sept 2018
  34. Mesthrie US (1997) From advocacy to mobilization Indian Opinion, 1903–1914. In: Switzer L (ed) South Africa’s alternative press: voices of protest and resistance, 1880s–1960s. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 99–126Google Scholar
  35. Motwani JK, Gosine M, Barot-Motwani J, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (1993) Global Indian diaspora: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Naidoo K (1998) Class, consciousness and organisation: Indian political resistance in Durban, South Africa 1979–1996. https://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/class-consciousness-and-organisation-political-development-indian-south-africans-1860-1979. Accessed 1 June 2018
  37. Omi M, Winant H (1986) Racial formation in the United States. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Padaychee V (1999) Struggle, collaboration and democracy: the ‘Indian community’ in South Africa, 1860–1999. Econ Polit Wkly 34:393–395Google Scholar
  39. Park YJ (2008) A matter of honour: being Chinese in South Africa. Jacana Media, Auckland ParkGoogle Scholar
  40. Pillay K (2015) South African families of Indian descent: transmission of racial identity. J Comp Fam Stud XLVI:121–135Google Scholar
  41. Pillay K (2017) AmaNdiya, they’re not South Africans! In: Ballantine C, Chapman M, Erwin K, Maré G (eds) Living together, living apart? Social cohesion in a future South Africa. UKZN Press, Pietermaritzburg, pp 80–87Google Scholar
  42. Pillay K (2019) The ‘Indian’ question: examining autochthony, citizenship, and belonging in South Africa. In: Essed P, Farquharson K, Pillay K, White EJ (eds) Relating worlds of racism: dehumanisation, belonging, and the normativity of European whiteness. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp 63–87Google Scholar
  43. Posel D (2001) What’s in a name?: racial categorisation under apartheid and their afterlife. Transformation 47:50–74Google Scholar
  44. Rastogi P (2008) Afrindian fictions: diaspora, race, and national desire in South Africa. The Ohio State University Press, ColumbusGoogle Scholar
  45. Siebers H (2004) Identity formation: issues, challenges and tools. In: Kalb D, Pansters W, Siebers H (eds) Globalization and development. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 75–102Google Scholar
  46. Singh R, Vawda S (1988) What’s in a name?: some reflections on the Natal Indian Congress. Transformation 6:1–21Google Scholar
  47. Vahed G (2001) Race or class? Community and conflict amongst Indian municipal employees in Durban, 1914–1949. J South Afr Stud 27:105–125Google Scholar
  48. Vahed G (2002) Constructions of community and identity among Indians in colonial Natal, 1860–1910: the role of the muharram festival. J Afr Hist 43:77–93Google Scholar
  49. West M (1988) Confusing categories: population groups, national states and citizenship. In: Boonzaier E, Sharp J (eds) South African keywords: the uses and abuses of political concepts. David Philip, Johannesburg, pp 100–110Google Scholar
  50. Yarwood AT (1964) Asian migration to Australia: the background to exclusion, 1896–1923. Melbourne University Press, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  51. Zegeye A, Ahluwalia P (2002) Transforming culture: street life in an apartheid city. Soc Identities 8:393–430Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Steven Ratuva
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and SociologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific StudiesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations