PRECARIOUS LIBERATION, workers, the state, and contested social citizenship in postapartheid South Africa

: Barchiesi (F.)

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331pp., paperback, Albany & Pietermaritzburg, 2011.


"This is an important and impressive book. In a South African context where wage labor has long been taken as the foundation of modern social citizenship, and where the demand for employment has been the touchstone of nearly all progressive politics, Franco Barchiesi upends conventional understandings through the radical act of listening. By paying careful attention to the words, thoughts, and experiences of wage laborers, he allows us to appreciate the way that wage labor today typically provides not stability and security, but rather uncertainty, resentment, and dissatisfaction, leavened with aspirations for escape from a system of labor increasingly built not on membership and solidarity, but on flexibility and ‘precarity.’ ]A valuable and original work that can help to open up a broader political imaginary of critique than is currently available[, in South Africa and beyond.” James Ferguson, author of Global Shadows: Africa in the neoliberal world order

Francis Barchiesi is Assistant Professor in the Department of African-American and African Studies, Ohio State University.