December 3, 2020
When Professor Anne-Maria Makhulu returned to South Africa to start her research in the late 1990s, the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission was just beginning to start its work. She says that while the newly established transparency was important for understanding the workings of the government during apartheid, the commission's function was largely symbolic.
"It concretely didn't address the needs of the vast majority of South Africans who had suffered forms of systemic and structural violence, not the kind of violence that a human rights framework would address." In her research as a cultural anthropologist, Makhulu seeks to untangle the racial and class disparities that still exist in South Africa despite the transition to a Black-majority, democratic government.
Anne-Maria Makhulu is an associate professor of Cultural Anthropology and African & African American Studies at Duke University. She is also core faculty in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and has an appointment in the department of Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies. In her first book, Making Freedom: Apartheid, Squatter Politics, and the Struggle for Home, Makhulu explores illegal settlements and squatting practices outside of Cape Town just after the end of apartheid. She is currently working on another book called South Africa After the Rainbow: Aspiration, Ambition, and Social Mobility.