n Law, Democracy & Development - Rights discourse and practices, everyday violence and social protests : who counts as subject and whose lives are real in the neo-colonial South African nation state?

Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1028-1053
  • E-ISSN: 2077-4907



I seek to provide an explanation for the disjunction between the lived realities of marginalised, displaced and impoverished collectivities in the neo-colonial South African nation state and the language, politics and practices of human or constitutional rights that represent them. I focus on individuals and groups and their struggles to participate in decisions affecting their needs and material existence, in the absence of assistance by public interest litigation, formalised civil society organisations or organised social movements, while facing economic constraints, complicated legal and political processes, and being bound to dismal structural and spatial conditions. I argue that individual/collective bodies suffer from everyday violence and that the modernist legal construction of the subject "derealises" their suffering and silences their needs. Therefore, I aim to examine some of the human rights discursive and non-discursive practices that produce the body as a subject of constitutional rights in the context of the neo-colonial South African nation state, and to question how to "realise" the suffering of the individual and of groups.

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