In the Mix: Expressions of Coloured Identity in Cape Town-Based Hiphop
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CitationMoses, Warrick. 2019. In the Mix: Expressions of Coloured Identity in Cape Town-Based Hiphop. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractMy dissertation project, In the Mix, investigates expressions of “mixed race,” or “coloured” socio-political and cultural identity in the performance genre of Cape Town-based hiphop music. South African hiphop originated in this city and has been associated with the concerns and sensibilities of its working-class coloured population from the outset. Based on fieldwork completed between 2015 and 2017, I interrogate contemporary conceptions of identity formulated by the members of this racialized social group - practitioners of the musical style themselves - both during and after the end of official apartheid; how their representations disrupt, and in some instances, overturn prevailing negative imaginaries within South Africa of coloured lived experience.
A major contention of my work is that racial categorization predicated on visual apperception remains the primary means of self, and social identification in South Africa, despite the post-1994 promise of equity heralded by inclusive “Rainbow Nationalism.” The musicians included in my ethnography adamantly reject the term “coloured” as a fiction of separatist ideology yet acknowledge “colouredness” as signifying discrete socio-cultural practices inherent to Cape Town hiphop.
Their negotiations of self-identity in the present moment address the (mis)translations that occur between standard and vernacular varieties of Afrikaans. The former is associated with white, middle-class Afrikaners and erstwhile Nationalist rule. Afrikaaps, or simply Kaaps on the other hand, is synonymous with the working-class “coloured” demographic of Cape Town, and also constitutes the fundamental language of hiphop performance in this city. My work describes how the unapologetic texts, emphatic attitudes, and dramatic performances of artists racialized as coloured, challenge longstanding, negative stereotypes intrinsic to the South African popular imagination of coloured identity. As they proclaim, denounce, and celebrate, these musicians skillfully employ the conventions of a genre known globally for its potential as a medium of social uplift, while mobilizing an aesthetic characterized by the incendiary critique of authoritarian practice.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029829
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