Mediating Urbanity through Race and Class
Through the unstable, contested notion of Angolanness (angolanidade), this chapter explores the complex interplay of race, ethnicity, class, and nationality in contemporary Angola — all unresolved issues that remain a political taboo and potent identitary discourses. However, the idiom of race is part of the popular political imaginary of the sistema: people in Luanda often perceive their ruling class as strangers, and denounce them as a foreign elite that is disconnected from the realities of the people. And yet, ‘Africanness’ is not simply the op-positional discourse to the MPLA’s hegemonic vision of multiracial angolanidade. Because race and class are intimately intertwined, people shift in and out of different categories situationally, i.e. even if they might denounce the ruling elite as foreign, they also endorse and reproduce a fundamentally urban, anti-indigenous project of ‘civilised’ modernity.
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