'There is nothing beautiful I see': Xhosa masculinities under structural violence, unemployment and changing political economies of sex

'There is nothing beautiful I see': Xhosa masculinities under structural violence, unemployment and changing political economies of sex

Author: 
Qambela, Gcobani
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2021
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Contemporary African Studies
Source: 
Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Volume 39, No. 4 2021 pp. 589-603
Abstract: 

Studies of amaXhosa ('Xhosa') men focus predominantly on Xhosa men attaining manhood through ritualised initiation (ulwaluko) and heterosexual homemaking through the building of a homestead (ukwakha umzi). Based on over a year of ethnographic research in Peddie, Eastern Cape, South Africa (2013-2014) with primarily young Xhosa men and women, I show the importance of looking pre-and-post the initiation and homestead centric focus prevalent in the literature. Using anthropological methods and techniques, I challenge initiation as the primary precursor to manhood for Xhosa men. I contest hegemonic theorisations and conceptualisations of Xhosa manhood that place primacy on the initiated phallus by showing the dynamic nature of Xhosa masculinities and the role of factors such as class, location and economic marginality. The young Xhosa men forming part of this study live in contexts of unemployment, structural exclusion and marginalisation. While initiation enjoys cultural hegemony, socially the picture is more complex. Rather than initiation status, employment and class assume importance in demarcating social status and relations among men. These tough conditions in Peddie are changing the political economy of sex in Peddie as well as contemporary meanings of traditions such as ulwaluko and heterosexual homemaking through ukwakha umzi. I argue for considerations of Xhosa masculinities that consider the role of economic marginality and socio-economic factors in influencing men's desires and experiences concerning ubudoda (manhood).

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CITATION: Qambela, Gcobani. 'There is nothing beautiful I see': Xhosa masculinities under structural violence, unemployment and changing political economies of sex . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2021. Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Volume 39, No. 4 2021 pp. 589-603 - Available at: http://library.au.int/there-nothing-beautiful-i-see-xhosa-masculinities-under-structural-violence-unemployment-and