Through a Coloured Lens: Post-Apartheid Indentity amongst Coloureds in KZN

by Fileve T. Palmer

Institution: Indiana University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Coloured; creole; identity; KwaZulu-Natal; race; South Africa
Record ID: 2059449
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2022/19854


Although the term creolization is widely applied in the Caribbean and Latin America, I find the concept useful in describing the ethnogenesis of Coloureds as a new group of people in South Africa. To call Coloured people "creole" deviates from the prescribed racialized and informal definition of them as "mixed-race" thereby also circumventing the idea of racial "purity." Recognizing that creolized societies, communities, and peoples merge two or more "formerly distinct" ethnic or cultural entities in new spaces to create unique social orders in heterogeneous styles, structures and contents eliminates essentialized definitions of people as being "mixed" and/or "pure." By examining Coloured people through a creole framework, we come to understand the ways these people weld unique cultural and genetic attributes together. In this way, Coloureds can be seen as differently preserving and adapting to new circumstances with new multifaceted meanings. South Africa's national government, popular media and economic leaders, as well as ordinary citizenry claim a special place on the global stage based on their economic resources and infrastructure, the peaceful transition from White minority government to black majority rule, and multicultural background of the citizenry. By embracing the nation's nickname "The Rainbow Nation," coined by Bishop Desmond Tutu, the implied ethnic and racial diversity of peoples is respected and celebrated. However, in multi-cultural nations people with blended ancestries aggregate and form liminal groups in which they inherit, adopt, and create cultural practices from every group on the racial continuum to create their own uniquely creolized (or blended) culture. However, these blendings are not always recognized or appreciated. I anchor my analysis of Coloureds living in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) as a liminal population between Black and White. My research differs from other scholars examining Coloureds, in that I scrutinize a province associated with a Zulu ethnic majority. By addressing a territory beyond the Coloured "homeland" of the Western Cape (of which the literature abounds) I am able to draw historical and ethnographic comparisons of creolization between the two areas and provide a space for discussion in alignment to Coloured's own cultural formations.