Policing racial boundaries: Exploring the relationship between intra-racial diversity and inter-racial relations

Kim Wale (University of Johannesburg)


Since the shift to democracy in 1994, South Africa has seen the diversification of historically enforced race groups that often maintain their power as prime identity markers and group separators, despite the increasing complexity developing within race categories and the ensuing super-diversity. This research aims to investigate the relationship between intra-racial diversification and inter-racial relations: How inter-racial is South Africa 15 years after the end of apartheid? In what ways does super-diversity open up the space for racial integration in South Africa? In what ways are historical racial boundaries policed despite or alongside super-diversity?

The research methodology will consist of in-depth interviews on the topic of inter-racial relations. A range of different self-classified racial groups and people who are or have been engaged in different forms of intimate inter-racial relations will be included. On the one hand a picture of race relations in South Africa from the perspective of students will emerge. On the other hand, it will become clear that while the existence of super-diversity within a taken-for granted category can challenge the salience of that category, this is not always the case and it is important to explore when, how and why this is or is not the case for particular axes of difference in particular contexts.