: Divided Loyalties: Migrants, Refugees, and Fragmented Labor Markets in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Gay SEIDMAN, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Since the end of apartheid, democratic South Africa has generally welcomed refugees; the post-apartheid government has allowed those fleeing conflict and persecution to live freely in South Africa’s cities, to use public services like hospitals and schools, and to work. But when urban unemployment rates often reach 25 percent, asylum-seekers compete with South Africa’s citizens, often finding themselves pushed into precarious and underpaid employment. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Cape Town, this paper explores the resources on which asylum-seekers draw, the opportunities they find, and the tensions they confront at work. How have refugees entered the local labor market – which is already deeply divided, and where urban unemployment rates already hover around 25 percent? In the context of recent outbreaks of xenophobic violence, how have South Africa’s unions responded to growing tensions between South African workers and foreign migrants/refugees?