The Recentering of the Geo-Political Misplaced Asian Identity in a Post-Colonial South Africa Through the Discourse of Inherited Photographs Pre-1994


The following paper is an analysis of the various Asian communities that had settled in South Africa following the Colonial period into the Apartheid regime and has now been assimilated into the “Asian”, “Indian”, “coloured” and “Malay” racial diaspora in the now ‘democratic’ South Africa. On one level, the paper discusses the re- construction or recentering of the Asian identity in terms of a South African national identity that it possesses in the present day Post-Apartheid South Africa. On another, it unpacks the notions of identity and recentering of the self through a personal narrative. As a product of an Asian ancestry line, the paper unpacks the narrative of my great grandparents and grandparents through memory forms and in particular- the visual narrative preserved through the photographic collections of my family members pre-1994. The sole focus of this paper is that of memory and identity preservation through photographs and the last authentic group of Asian communities (my grandparents and those in the generation who had been born and lived through apartheid and racial segregation). Lastly, the paper unpacks what the future of the recentred Asian identity will be in terms of the generation that has now been plagued by technological shifts and heightened globalisation. It begs the question: is there an artistic space for the NEW Asian community in South Africa, myself included, which offers a method of identity shift and historical reclamation and what does it really mean to be an Asian Other in one’s own country?

Author Information
Shameelah Khan, AFDA University, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2018
Stream: Humanities - Ethnicity, Difference, Identity

This paper is part of the ACAH2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon