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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The South African Woman and the Immigrant Lover: Myths and Dynamics of Cross-Border Love Relationships in a Post-Apartheid South African Community

  • Author(s): Tafira, Chimusoro Kenneth
  • et al.

Love relationships between black South African women and immigrant men have not been given adequate attention by researchers of migration, refugee studies, and those concerned with anti-immigrant attitudes and violence. In this paper, based on ethnographicr esearch conducted in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2009, I argue that cross-border love relationships provoke sexual and racial jealousies between the two sets of manhood: South African and black African immigrant. These are eventually expressed in anti-immigrant violence, such as the events that occurred in May 2008 mainly perpetrated by men, exhibit characteristics of masculinisation, racialisation and sexualisation. Intermittent poverty and unemployment also play a role in this drama. Incidents of hatred based on competition for women and resultant resentment by men who lose out deepen. I contend that in order to fully comprehend this kind of violence, one needs to understand the dynamics of love relationships between black South African women and black African immigrant men and pervasive myths like immigrants stealing jobs and taking women, that are common in the community.

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