Superfluous labour, state weakness, and the contradictions of 'political' subjectivity in South Africa

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Seminar Date
August 31, 2011
This paper argues for the importance of grounding recent writing on political subjectivity in South Africa in the increasingly pervasive condition of superfluous labor. It theorizes superfluity as the contradiction of living in a society where work is increasingly unavailable but where abstract labor, as a form of value specific to capitalism, still structures social experience. Reading the development of superfluity in the South African past and present shows how the possibility of progressive government transformation is circumscribed, producing ‘state weakness’. Finally the paper argues that superfluity manifests in contradictory expressions that complicate claims about both government practice and political subjectivity.
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