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La construction d’un futur sur quatre roues : Une ethnographie du handicap locomoteur dans Mitchell’s Plain (Afrique du Sud)

Abstract : This thesis explores subjectivities shaped by locomotive disability in the post-apartheid city through an ethnography of ordinary life. Locomotive disability encompasses every limitation of mobility due to an infirmity of the lower limbs. In my discussion, it is conceived as a ‘test’ (épreuve), namely an event that interrupts everyday routines and creates tensions between the responsibilities of different actors’ – people with disabilities, families, the state, etc. These tensions are articulated on various levels. In my discussion, I focus on three of them: the political field that determines a certain type of citizenship, the social networks that constitute the person, and finally the understanding people with disabilities have of their personal history. These levels combine to shape people’s subjectivity, and are analysed in a Foucauldian perspective not just as individuals’ relations with themselves, but also with others and the wider world. Chapter 1 introduces the discussion by providing an overview of the political problematisation of disability in South Africa. I question how national history has influenced discourses and legislation in the field of disability. More specifically, I explore the effects of these programs on the experience of locomotive disability in contemporary South Africa. Chapter 2 then presents in detail South African social security and job creation policies. This section of the thesis introduces an economic dimension to the discussion of the social relationships of people with disabilities which is taken up in the following chapters. Chapter 3 questions significant others’ identity in the process of finding a house. Chapter 4 focuses on gender relationships and their current reconfigurations, as lived by people with disabilities. A third register of sociability is introduced in chapter 5, which documents the existence and the nature of social places in Mitchell’s Plain township and the ways people with disabilities participate in those spaces. Finally, chapter 6 brings together the conclusions from each chapter to explain the self-narrations (récit de soi) produced by different social dynamics. Through my analysis, I thus explore the place people give to disability in their relationships with the self and with others. More generally, this thesis aims to contribute to the understanding of the consequences that policies have for people’s lives and the way these policies are appropriated by the actors on the field. In so doing, the thesis participates in the debate around the management of people who are often perceived as ‘dependants’. To look at disability in a nation that is both conceived as developed and still developing, neither completely social nor totally liberal, is a way to extend our knowledge on these topics in contemporary societies. Moreover, the topic of disability in South Africa allows me to analyse apartheid policies and their bodily and spatial dimensions, by focusing on how the city is nowadays (re)appropriated by its inhabitants. In this context, questioning South African citiness allows me to depart from a racial discourse that still often monopolises analysis of this society, in order to comprehend how, beyond these differences, the urban space is restructured. Through this dynamic, the memory of a troubled past with an uncertain status is at play. Finally, a discussion on locomotive disability in South Africa challenges the supposed link between this type of disability and the endemic violence of the townships.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 10:42:11 AM
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Marie Schnitzler. La construction d’un futur sur quatre roues : Une ethnographie du handicap locomoteur dans Mitchell’s Plain (Afrique du Sud). Anthropologie sociale et ethnologie. Université de Bordeaux, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017BORD0862⟩. ⟨tel-01757944⟩

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