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Naturing the Nation: Aliens, Apocalypse, and the Postcolonial State

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This paper examines the predicament of the postcolonial nation-state through the prism of environmental catastrophe: how is it that plant 'invaders' can become an urgent political issue, and what might this reveal of the shifting relations among citizenship, community, and national sovereignty under neoliberal conditions? Pursuing these questions in relation to a case from the 'new' South Africa, we posit three key features of postcolonial polities in an era of laissez-faire: the refiguration of the subject-citizen, the crisis of sovereign borders, and the depoliticisation of politics. Under such conditions, aliens - both plants and people - come to embody core contradictions of boundedness and belonging; and alien-nature provides a language for voicing new forms of discrimination amidst a culture of 'post-racism' and civil rights.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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