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Contradictions of DemocracyVigilantism and Rights in Post-Apartheid South Africa$
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Nicholas Rush Smith

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190847180

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190847180.001.0001

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Vigilantism and the Contradictions of Democratic State Formation

Vigilantism and the Contradictions of Democratic State Formation

Chapter:
(p.18) Chapter 1 Vigilantism and the Contradictions of Democratic State Formation
Source:
Contradictions of Democracy
Author(s):

Nicholas Rush Smith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190847180.003.0002

This chapter argues that vigilantism is a response to processes of democratic state formation—particularly the extension of procedural rights—and is enabled by dense civic ties. It also shows how vigilantism is a metaphor for processes of democratic state formation, which unsettles common theoretical assumptions that democratic states are directed toward protecting citizens. By seeing states as inherently protective, the chapter argues that scholars overlook the ways in which that protection may be premised on vigilante-like procedureless police violence against groups of citizens deemed dangerous—in South Africa predominantly young men of color. Rather than protective, these men often experience the state as terrorizing.

Keywords:   vigilantism, contradiction, democracy, state formation, police violence

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