Muslim Community Radio: Race & Global Islam in Post-Apartheid South Africa

TitleMuslim Community Radio: Race & Global Islam in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Alghazzi, O.
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Pennsylvania
Section or WGDiaspora and Media Working Group
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeDIAW2a
Slot Code (Keyword)DIAW2a
Time of Session11:00-12:30
RoomC165
Session TitleCrises of Multiculturalism: Diasporic Media/Cultural Responses
Submission ID6013
Abstract

This paper explores the case of the Indian and Malay Muslim minority diasporas in South Africa and their use of community radio to negotiate collective social and political identities. In post-apartheid South Africa, community radio has become a vastly popular medium and has quickly fulfilled a need to express and celebrate local identities in a manner that contrasts with the formerly government-controlled and white-dominated communication system. In this paper, I focus on the cases of Al-Ansaar radio managed by the South African Indian Muslim community in Durban and Voice of the Cape radio run by Muslims of Malay origin in Cape Town. Though the two communities are united by religion, they have different racial and ethnic backgrounds and different legal and political histories under colonialism and also under the apartheid racialist system. Informed by an analysis of radio programs, site visits and interviews with staff in both stations conducted in July 2012, and against the backdrop of the different histories of both communities in South Africa, I explore how Muslims of Indian and Malay origins articulate their religious, cultural, and ethnic identities through local radio. I argue that the ways that these community radios discursively construct a new ‘global Islamic’ identity is in tension with how both Muslim communities interact with each other and position themselves, politically and economically, within the larger South African nation. I contend that the rise of expressions of Islam in South Africa is not necessarily an indication of a decline in ‘race-thinking’ within the diverse Islamic minority but also as a reflection of an anxiety over the positioning of these communities within the new post-apartheid democratic political system. This case-study also reveals the impact not only of apartheid but also the history of colonialism on the Indian and Malay diaspora communities and the ways they articulate their identities and relate to each other. Finally, this case-study also points to the centrality of community radio as a vehicle for renewed attempts of constructing diaspora identities and, in the case of South Africa, for resisting the main national political narrative about the unity of the “rainbow nation.”

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