Title

Greying Mutuality: Race and Joking Relations in a South African Nursing Home

Abstract

This article describes how residents and staff of an eldercare and Alzheimer’s home in a small South African town joke with each other. Residents are mostly white and staff mostly black, but there are exceptions, and both groups are multilingual. Jokes between the two groups in the home are racialized, if not sometimes racist, in light of historical and contemporary post-apartheid socio-political and economic circumstances. Yet the relations between these two groups are forged mostly in joking about residents’ diminished cognitive and bodily abilities, staff work, multilingualism and interpersonal ties. In describing joking encounters in three ethnographic scenes, the article traces the ways in which age and race combine in institutionalized relationships of dependency to innovate social theory about human mutuality from the vantage point of multiracial, multicultural, postcolonial Africa.

Department

Anthropology

Publication Date

2020

Journal Title

Africa

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1017/S0001972019001049

Document Type

Article

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