Collections > UNC Chapel Hill Undergraduate Honors Theses Collection > Rhodes Must Fall and the Politics of Identity in Contemporary South Africa

My thesis seeks to examine the dissolution of Rhodes Must Fall through critically evaluating the role of identity and difference within the movement. I examine the theoretical debates surrounding intersectional identity formation and the relevancy of these debates to political action in South Africa. In particular, I will place intersectional understandings of identity in conversation with the critiques of identity offered by Stuart Hall. My thesis will first, in this chapter, outline the relevant elements of the South African context and then offer a timeline of Rhodes Must Fall. In Chapter 2, I will examine how intersectionality serves as both an organizing principle within the movement and as a strategy employed to advance the movement’s decolonial agenda. In Chapter 3, I will argue that the means by which Rhodes Must Fall constructs intersectional identities relies on essentialist constructions of identity that hinder movement building and political efficacy. In Chapter 4, I will develop both a general critique of intersectionality drawing on Stuart Hall’s theorization of discourse, interpellation, representation, difference, and hybridity in relation to theories of identification, and a specific critique of intersectionality within the Rhodes Must Fall Movement. Finally, in Chapter 5, I will examine the governance strategies employed by the ruling African National Congress to contain dissent in order to further demonstrate the inadequacy of intersectional identity politics to radically alter status quo politics in South Africa.