Abstract: In 1994, South Africa became a democratic country and has since prided itself with having the most progressive constitution in the world. However, I argue that the post-apartheid nation-state is Afronormative and has become a site of regulation for social formations like race, gender, and sexuality. I coined the term Afronormativity, to examine how political culture produces and relies on normative social identities. Furthermore, Afronormativity, as a structure, makes visible the hierarchical nature of the post-apartheid nation-state. Through analysis of the reconstitution of the black-white binary in the post-apartheid period, I examine the limited forms of legibility and visibility this binary offers for certain kinds of minoritized subjects like Indians, who were introduced to South Africa in 1860 through the British Empire’s indentured servitude scheme. I argue that since the colonial period, notions of citizenship and national belonging have relied on the construction of the Indian as the “alien-other”. The post-apartheid nation-state still relies on political identities formed during colonialism and apartheid that reiterate stereotypes of the Indian as Other. I analyze how such stereotypes obscure the manner in which settler colonialism operates in the contemporary period, where the Indian functions as a scapegoat to deflect attention away from the continuing effects of white supremacy on the majority black population.

By drawing on a visual culture archive that extends beyond material culture (films, photographs, and fine art exhibitions) to consider the visuality of everyday life in South Africa, I shift my focus from the recuperation of the Indian subject to consider brownness, influenced by a queer diasporic framework, as an analytic that destabilizes and critiques Afronormativity. Located interstitially between black and white, I argue that brownness queers the black-white binary and a queer framework also challenges binaries related to gender and sexuality. This dissertation is interdisciplinary and draws from Queer of Color Critique, African Studies, African-American and African Diaspora Studies, Asian American and South Asian Diaspora Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Visual Culture Studies in order to examine questions related to race, diaspora, nation, settler colonialism and the limits of neoliberal citizenship in an era of global capital.

Abstract: This essay explores the issue of Missing and Murdered Women (MMIW) in Canada from a perspective that problematizes not only the racializing and gendering of indigenous women, but the normative conception of the human ascribed to settler Canadians as well. By examining these processes as part of a greater juridical-biological constitution of ‘the human,’ the ways in which this differentiation works to valorize the lives of some humans whilst simultaneously devaluing
the lives of ‘others’ are revealed. This hierarchy is explored through the lens of Roberto Esposito’s book Third Person in order to illustrate how the subject-formations that have occurred and continue to occur at the intersection of Canada’s indigenous and settler populations stem
from problematic notions of personhood. Inspired by Esposito’s problematization of both secular and Catholic notions of personhood, this essay discusses and critiques the ways in which these notions, in the form of the colonial and settler state dispositif, have contributed to the devaluation of indigenous peoples, cultures, sovereignty and bodies and simultaneous overvaluation of their non-indigenous counter-parts in the specific context of the phenomenon of MMIW. In response to Esposito’s proposed affirmative biopolitics, this essay concludes by proposing a way out of this dispositif, inspired by the work of Judith Butler and Walter Mignolo, through a “universal project of diversality” premised on the shared precariousness of life.

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