Awkward Entanglements: Kinship, Morality and Survival in Cape Town’s Prison–township Circuit

Karen Waltorp, Steffen Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, we explore how townships and prison are linked in South Africa among criminalised populations. While the two are often described–also by residents–as belonging to radically different moral worlds, the article shows how they are entangled in often awkward and difficult, yet necessary ways. We show this by paying acute attention to kinship structures and how kin are disavowed, allowed and sometimes denied as residents find their way to prison and out again. The empirical basis of the article is long-term fieldwork in and engagement with Cape Town’s townships and their residents, many of who have experiences with prison as (former) inmates, as family to inmates, or through constant circulation of prison stories.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnos. Journal of Anthropology
Volume84
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)41-55
Number of pages15
ISSN0014-1844
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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kinship
morality
correctional institution
town
resident
Morality
Cape Town
Kinship
Entanglement
Prison
experience
Residents
Township

Keywords

  • Gangs
  • Cape Town
  • morality
  • kinship
  • prison
  • township

Cite this

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Awkward Entanglements : Kinship, Morality and Survival in Cape Town’s Prison–township Circuit. / Waltorp, Karen; Jensen, Steffen.

In: Ethnos. Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 84, No. 1, 2019, p. 41-55.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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AB - In this paper, we explore how townships and prison are linked in South Africa among criminalised populations. While the two are often described–also by residents–as belonging to radically different moral worlds, the article shows how they are entangled in often awkward and difficult, yet necessary ways. We show this by paying acute attention to kinship structures and how kin are disavowed, allowed and sometimes denied as residents find their way to prison and out again. The empirical basis of the article is long-term fieldwork in and engagement with Cape Town’s townships and their residents, many of who have experiences with prison as (former) inmates, as family to inmates, or through constant circulation of prison stories.

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