Shafinaaz Hassim

Nouveau red: The cult of representation

The truly fascinating and engaging aspect of being part of a democracy, is the ability to tease, convert or overhaul the status quo for the sake of requisite representation if the electorate deems it necessary. Yes, even when the electorate is said to be largely on zombie mode. The results of India’s election and the…

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Theatre of terror at the trial of Oscar Pistorius

The trial of Oscar Pistorius has turned into a horror movie, bringing home the reality of an alleged femicide, and the trauma of crime in South Africa. In the hero’s tale, the villain brings conflict until the hero is able to resolve. State prosecutor Gerrie Nel has undertaken this heroism in the courtroom at the…

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Face to face with democracy

Being South African forces one to reflect and re-evaluate, sometimes daily, how to identify, in some general and particular ways with who we are. Sum of parts, or a sore thumb, the nearly two decade’s span of freedom is a precarious space for identity. Too black, too white, not quite right, we continue to grapple…

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Abuse of the sacred

A campaign called “Abused Goddesses” is drawing massive engagement and attention around the world. Initiated by a women’s empowerment organisation in India, called Save our Sisters, which helps prevent the trafficking of women and children, it makes use of a series of images of Hindu goddesses, Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Durga with bruises and cuts in an…

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To fix a broken working class

Some say that 20 years is not a long time to sink teeth into a fully-fledged new democracy. There have been many challenges to ignite economic growth while providing essential services to the South African nation. But the major gripe that seems to resonate in today’s times is that the powerful voice of the working…

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The sociology of soccer

A few weeks ago, I was invited to respond to a paper at a seminar jointly hosted by the departments of sociology and anthropology at the University of Johannesburg. The presenter was soccer sociologist Dr Marc Fletcher, a post-doctoral fellow in the department and his paper interrogated as part of a larger thesis, that both…

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Racists

“Jean-Louis Belavoix had stood up amid the applause that followed Bates’s exhibition, and had begun all at once to speak in a loud voice. ‘How absurd, Mr Bates!’ He called down. ‘Are we really to believe that men differ from each other simply because of the funny angle under their noses? Is that why the…

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The Madiba Roadshow

Reality TV is funny business. Everyone in the industry knows that you score massive ratings, sometimes even in spite of viewer scepticism, when you allow an audience a window into the so-called real day in the life of a celebrity. As spectators we have a love-hate relationship with reality television precisely because it allows us…

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On sexuality and freedom

“It is not enough to inquire into how women might become more fully represented in language and politics. Feminist critique ought also to understand how the category of ‘women’, the subject of feminism, is produced and restrained by the very structures of power through which emancipation is sought.” Judith Butler: Gender Trouble. At first read,…

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Boston bombs refuel the trauma tank

I’ve been reading the horrific spate of bombings just this week, and recounting with terror, the images of bombings that have penetrated our consciousness through much of the past two decades at least, some in recollecting Hiroshima, lest we forget, but most notably in recent times, the never ending images from 07/07, 9/11, and in…

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