Erin Torkelson

Fellowship Recipient
Department: Geography

Research interests: the black tax

Country Expertise: South Africa
Fellowship Year(s): 2016
Project/Theme Title: Black Tax: Gender and Generation in South Africa
Abstracts: An enduring feature of South African life, under colonialism and apartheid, has been the spatial extension of families between rural and urban areas. Despite projections that rural-urban circuits would end with apartheid, spatially-extended households have persisted in the post-apartheid period. The category of black tax is one important measure of the continuing, if transfigured, familial relations across the Cape region. My research explores how young people – some of whom are relatively better off than their parents, and others of whom are unemployed and uneducated – struggle to pay the black tax that should bind them to rural community networks. The familial politics around this tax articulates with national political debates over the meaning of liberation. The black tax demonstrate how rural-urban struggles are imbricated with the material conditions of everyday life and the promises (and betrayals) of the postcolonial nation.
Fellowship Year(s): 2015
Project/Theme Title: The Black Tax: Gender, Generation and Youth Politics in South Africa
Abstracts: An enduring feature of South African life, under colonialism and apartheid, has been the spatial extension of families between rural and urban areas. Despite projections that rural-urban circuits would end with apartheid, spatially-extended households have persisted in the post-apartheid period. The Xhosa categories of amagoduka (those who go home to pay the ‘black tax’) and amatshipa (those who do not) are an important measure of the continuing, if transfigured, familial relations across the Cape region. My research explores how young people -- who experience multiple regimes of exclusion from employment, social grants and political power -- struggle to pay the ‘black tax’ that should bind them to rural community networks. The familial politics around this tax articulates with national political debates over the meaning of liberation. The amagoduka and amatshipa demonstrate how rural-urban struggles are imbricated with the material conditions of everyday life and the promises (and betrayals) of the postcolonial nation.
Fellowship Year(s): 2015
Language: Xhosa
Fellowship Year(s): 2013
Project/Theme Title: Platinum and Power: Producing South Africa’s Uneven Geographies