Men, Masculinity, South Africa, Popular Culture

About Borderotics

I document episodes of social dramas in South Africa and beyond. The intimate narratives address connections and disjunctions in the gendered micropolitics of everyday live. I did my best to translate my subjective experiences into an inter-subjective account. Yet, the latter is partial, fragmented and intimately tied to my own autobiography.  This is a journey into ethnographic borderlands between the material and the imagined.

In analogy to Chávez-Silverman I term the desire that gathers seemingly disparate people, ideas, artefacts, and places “borderotic.” The sensual transcends what has been called culture in several ways. Borderotic ethnography creates new cultures of (mis)understanding. It is the epitome of transculturation, the process of bringing things together that have not been seen as being related or mixed-up before. The desire to follow and inter-connect with others of any kind opens a space for transformation. The borderotic encounter enables me as ethnographer and the subjects I am working with to exchange and share perspectives, to momentarily become a little more like the other on a material and/or imagined plane.

Borderotics bring people and things together temporarily. For a moment they yield a glimpse of insight, community, and identity which shortly after may dissolve into strangeness, distance, and inevitable ignorance. Moreover, the closer a new connection to an other becomes, the further away may drift the intimate of the past. Boderotics connect and disconnect - make me more like someone or something I approach at the moment while at the same time more unlike something or someone else. Every sensual coming together divides the ethnographer from others, particularly if they belong to other gatherings. Boderotic ethnography is aware of the fact that identity produces alterity and perhaps vice versa. Still, it is a journey that makes use of the ethnographers embodied subjectivity in order to transcend cultures as we knew them in order to create connections…

This blog is dedicated to the people who allowed me to take part in their lives and gave their consent to make their stories accessible to a broder public. I am grateful to everybody who generously shared stories, actions, and artefacts. All names including those of places are made anonymous to protect the privacy of the people involved.