in Worrier state
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In this introduction, Falkof begins by exploring the changes that have come to South Africa in her years abroad. Talk of crime, risk, danger, security and social decay peppers her conversations and leads to queries as to why she would sacrifice a ‘safe’ life in England for the risky, unsettling realities of home. The inherent risk of being a white, middle-class woman tallies with the contradictory notion that moving is risky – but so is staying still. Many of these dramatic tales of risk are overtly racialised – the media and political discourse aimed at them/us make it clear that black men in particular are a threat. For Falkof, her own prejudices are questioned when she finds herself crossing the street or locking her car doors at red lights at the sight of such black men. Coming back to South Africa makes it clear that her politics cannot unsettle the parts of her identity she is uncomfortable with. This chapter introduces the idea that Africa should be recontextualised and not viewed as ‘surplus, derivative, a place of bluff…’ but as a juxtaposition: a place that combines desperate poverty and ostentatious wealth. In this way, the public script becomes suffused with stories of the uncanny, fear and of threat.

Worrier state

Risk, anxiety and moral panic in South Africa


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