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Current conceptualisations of citizenship in South Africa are embedded in the egalitarian discourse of the Constitution, lauded for its recognition of historically marginalised groups, including sexually and gender diverse people. Within the paradox of progressive legal advancements and the legacy of colonialism and apartheid, we use a decolonial feminist lens to critically engage with the notion of citizenship for black lesbian women in contemporary South Africa.

We adopt a social-psychological perspective of citizenship as an active practice, embedded within the dynamic intersections of historical, structural and discursive patterns of power-knowledge relations in everyday life. We draw from five focus group discussions that were part of a study that explored the intersections of identity, power and violence in the lives of black lesbian women in South Africa.

We conclude by arguing that current conceptualisations of full citizenship in contemporary South Africa require a reframing that recognises the coloniality of power and Black ebony lesbo heterogeneity of marginalised and invisibilised subjectivities.

As South Africa heralded in democracy inMark Gevisser and Edward Cameron asked several important questions about gay identity and gay spaces in South Africa. Of particular relevance to this paper were their questions around the exclusion of black women from mainstream gay culture and the existence of a common gay identity in South Africa.

We use a decolonial feminist lens Lugones, informed by Foucauldian concepts of power, knowledge and discourse. By postcolonial, we mean the ways in which contemporary society reproduces the discourses, knowledge, practices and power relations that were characteristic of the colonial era, rather than a specific historical period.

Additionally, we use the term coloniality of power Quijano, to describe the enactment of race as a central feature in the establishment and rationalisation of the power matrix between the colonised and the colonisers. The coloniality of power Quijano, describes how the social category of race continues to sustain postcolonial power relations in modern capitalist and neoliberal contexts.

While Quijano argues for the centrality of race in the performance of coloniality, Lugones contends that gender is an equally salient construct. We thus recognise the historical matrix of power relations that underpin the oppression of black women. This encompasses the continued enactment of oppression Black ebony lesbo various forms, and the inter-connectedness of raced and gendered oppression with the experiences of citizenship.

Furthermore, the historical linking of race and materiality during the colonial and apartheid eras implies that class is intertwined with race and gender in contemporary South Africa. Citizenship is a contested and slippery concept.

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It means many different things to people in different contexts. Current conceptualisations of citizenship in South Africa may be argued to resemble traditional Marshallian models that focus on the political relationship between the state and individuals, state responsibilities and obligations, the legal status and rights of citizens, and their access to economic and social resources.

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Current conceptualisations of citizenship in South Africa are also embedded in the egalitarian discourse of the Constitution, lauded for its legal recognition of historically marginalised groups, including sexually and gender diverse minorities. Several pieces of progressive legislation have been promulgated which promote citizen rights and an egalitarian society for sexually and gender diverse people specifically. It is tempting to think that full citizenship of sexually and gender diverse people has been achieved in light of these legal advancements that promote social and economic equities for all citizens.

While the state-individual relationship marks an important dimension of citizenship, we maintain that this dichotomous conceptualisation masks how power is discursively and socially deployed in ways that are reminiscent of colonial constructions of the subjugated other Mama, We suggest that black lesbian women are constructed and positioned as the subjugated other in contemporary South Black ebony lesbo. Citizenship constitutes an embodied, affective and psychic lived subjectivity and experience, embedded within the dynamic intersections of multiple identities, feelings of belonging, and historical, structural and discursive patterns of power-knowledge relations Yuval-Davis, As such, full citizenship extends beyond legal citizenship to include sexual, reproductive, social, economic and psychological citizenship.

Stevenson et al. We are cognisant that these areas intersect in complex, nuanced and changing ways in everyday life. In this paper, we focus on the performance of citizenship in public spaces to highlight the coloniality of power Quijano, Social and labels are of particular importance in an engagement of citizenship that recognises the historical context in which socially engineered identity and labels race being the most obvious were enmeshed in justificatory narratives that rationalised colonial power and oppression Quijano, Notwithstanding the limitations of labels as identity markers, we use the label lesbian to refer to women in same-sex relationships as the majority of participants in the original study self-identified as such.

Black represents a conscious subversion to white colonial oppression Biko, During the colonial era in South Africa, race, gender and sexuality were deployed as powerful political and social technologies that advanced white supremacy and the brutal enslavement and exploitation of black people Gqola, ; Young,cited in Tamale, Tamale argues that the colonial project redefined African sexualities within a discourse of public, sexual and social morality to advance colonial exploitation. The apartheid system formalised and reinforced colonial power relations.

Under apartheid law, South African citizens were classified into one of four racial under the Population Registration Act Act No. This formal system of racial classification and segregation informed and justified the creation of socially engineered racial hierarchies, enabled through gross per capita disparities among the racially categorised groups. Likewise, gender Black ebony lesbo sexuality were highly regulated and repressed during colonial and apartheid eras.

During the colonial and apartheid eras in South Africa, the repression and censorship of sexuality within a highly Black ebony lesbo and gendered context functioned to construct and position white, male, heterosexuality as the most powerful within the socially engineered hierarchy. These discourses served to position black people on the lower end of the social hierarchy. We contend that this embeddedness carries through into the current democratic context, which, despite its progressive nature, also contains oppressive practices.

In this paper, we are particularly interested in the intersections of citizenship as embodied experiences and oppressive practices that are obscured in the lives of black lesbian women. The gross colonial subjectification and fixation on the body of Sara Baartman not only reflects how power inequities intersect with race, gender and sexuality Boonzaier, but also epitomises the colonial fragmentation and disembodiment of black subjectivities Gqola, The fight for sexual freedom and expression is a political matter.

Despite this focus on gendered citizenship, several trends indicate the contrary for black lesbian women specifically. Local studies have foregrounded the intersections of lesbian subjectivities and continuing forms of institutional homophobia, sexual prejudice, societal discrimination and hate crimes against lesbian women Judge, ; Stephens, While legislative recognition of diverse sexual orientations has created greater visibility of the lesbian population, it has simultaneously increased their vulnerability to discrimination, homophobic acts and hate crimes.

This is especially pertinent in the absence of adequate and effective legal and institutional support to give tangible effect to constitutional priorities.

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As such, the enactment of sexual violence and homophobic rape of black lesbian women represent forms of discipline and social control of black lesbian sexuality. These enactments are embedded within justificatory Tamale, and pathologising Hames, cultural narratives that reflect the continued subjectification and objectification of black women. Public discourse constructs black lesbian women as being deviant, due to their perceived gender and sexual nonconformity Black ebony lesbo, Furthermore, the sensationalist nature of media focus on crimes against black lesbian women Hames, reinforces the discourses of blackness and violence, and discursively constructs black lesbian women as Black ebony lesbo, powerless victims Morrissey, The lesbian and lesbian sexuality come to be constituted as the sexually deviant postcolonial other in post-apartheid South Africa through this awkward tension.

This paper draws from five focus groups that were part of a multi-site, qualitative study that explored the intersections of identity, power and violence in the lives of black lesbian women in public and private spaces in South Africa. As a feminist study, we challenge dominant cultural narratives that construct black lesbian sexuality as unintelligible Butler, against gender and sexual hetero normativities.

This marks a deliberate reclaiming of personhood to disrupt colonial discourses of depersonalised and anonymous black women. Although participants were primarily recruited from urban areas in the KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape provinces, some participants hailed from rural township areas in these provinces, as well as the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces. Thirty women with a mean age of 23 years participated in the focus groups. All participants had completed their Grade 12 matric except for one participant who was in Grade 12 at the time of the study.

Twelve participants were registered for undergraduate studies and four had completed postgraduate qualifications. Eleven participants were unemployed. All participants reported having been involved in at least one intimate same-sex relationship.

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At the time of the study, 18 participants reported being single and one participant was married. Four participants were living with their partners and five had children of their own, two of whom had become pregnant as a result Black ebony lesbo being raped. The first author conducted five audio-recorded focus groups in a manner that advanced broad feminist principles.

Focus groups are useful in the exploration of gender and sexuality Montell, as they locate the person and subjectivities in social contexts through their reliance on social interaction and the co-construction and negotiation of meaning Wilkinson, All focus groups began with an introductory comment which outlined the research aims.

Thereafter, conversation was invited around their experiences as women in same-sex relationships in various contexts and public spaces. In keeping with the feminist principles of focus groups, participants were allowed to determine the depth of exploration of issues for the most part. Individuals position themselves in relation to multiple discourses and forms of power and, in so doing, define their subjective experiences Weedon, The historical, social, cultural and political contexts in South Africa structure sexuality and gender in particular ways.

They shape how society thinks about and responds to black lesbian sexuality in contemporary South Africa. Thus, how constructions of blackness produce racialised and colonised subjects Stevens et al. The same may be argued for the deployment of discursive constructions around gender, sexuality and class in ways that legitimise oppressive practices. We used a decolonial feminist lens, informed by Foucauldian theorising of power, knowledge and discourse, when we read and coded the transcripts.

A feminist decolonial lens recognises the ways in which racialisation and gendered subordination are co-produced as well as the ways in which coloniality is all-encompassing Lugones,

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