Contemporary South African horror: On meat, neo-liberalism and the postcolonial politics of a global form | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2040-3275
  • E-ISSN: 2040-3283



Following the postapartheid encounter with neo-liberal economics, South African cultural production has begun to register the influence of global, popular forms borne into the country on the tide of multinational capital. Horror is one such commercial mode the manifestation of which, in contemporary South Africa, is thus bound up with processes of economic globalization. Its deployment in the country is also, however, committed to unveiling the brutalities and dehumanizations underpinning the neo-liberal operation of global capital. In these texts, economic deprivation and exploitation are made to resonate with the country’s history of racial oppression, and are given brutal form as evocations of the person become meat. The circumscribed position in which such narratives situate themselves – their critique of the processes which sustain them – is the focus of this article’s final stages: I suggest we read South Africa’s horror, not as complicit in some invalidating way, but as an experimental exploration of modes and voices in a postapartheid culture unrestrained by polarizing ethical demands to oppose the racist state. South African horror arises, then, in a context where the binary is losing purchase as a model for dissent, and this observation, I venture, may have implications not simply for the postapartheid production of such narratives, but for wider manifestations of the genre too.


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