News & events


Precarious Liberation: Workers, the State, and Contested Social Citizenship in Post-Apartheid South Africa

26 July 2011
13:00 - 14:00

Date :

26 July 2011

Time :

13:00 – 14:00

Venue :

PLAAS Boardroom (2nd Floor, Main Hall, UWC)


Millions of black South African workers struggled against apartheid to redeem employment and production from a history of abuse, insecurity, and racial despotism. Almost two decades later, however, the prospects of a dignified life of wage-earning work remain unattainable for most South Africans. 

Through extensive archival and ethnographic research, Franco Barchiesi documents and interrogates this important dilemma in the country’s democratic transition: economic participation has gained centrality in the government’s definition of virtuous citizenship, and yet for most workers, employment remains an elusive and insecure experience. In a context of market liberalization and persistent social and racial inequalities, as jobs in South Africa become increasingly flexible, fragmented, and unprotected, they depart from the promise of work with dignity and citizenship rights that once inspired opposition to apartheid. Barchiesi traces how the employment crisis and the responses of workers to it challenge the state’s normative imagination of work, and raise decisive questions for the social foundations and prospects of South Africa’s democratic experiment.

As light lunch will be provided, please RSVP by 0900hrs on Monday 25 July for catering purposes.

Download the poster here

For more information, contact Meagan Langeveldt Tel: +27 (0) 21 959 3733 or Email: