Article from ROAPE Volume 35 Number 116
Rejoinder: Propagandists, Professors & their ‘Poors’
Shannon Walsh has spent a considerable amount of time in the shacklands of Durban. This has given her access to shackdwellers beyond the normal stratum of the leaders of the movement Abahlali baseMjondolo. Together with the fact that she has decided not simply to become a propagandist of a cause with which she identifies or simply ignore the tensions that emanate from her ‘insider/outsider’ status, makes her paper insightful. She uses the occasion of her farewell - in which she is the recipient of lavish praise, together with two other academics from overseas - to reflect on the immense power she is accorded in her collaboration with the movement she worked in and researched. This is noteworthy because so many narrators of social movements, including those who are the staunchest defenders of ‘the voices of the poor’, have simply ignored the immense class, race, gender and locational privileges they are afforded. Instead of reluctantly embracing the power she is being offered, Walsh takes her anthropological torch and begins to shine it in the faces of herself and those who are like her.