Home Institution

University of Redlands

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


The phenomena to address and confront social issues as a career path has shifted the way communities experience the realm of activism. This research addresses the effort emphasized in gay and lesbian activism on the Nongovernmental Industrial Complex as a platform for social transformation. These structures have notably been co-opted by neo-liberalism and the State. In South Africa, the gay and lesbian movement have its roots dug into legal reform which becomes conservative and relies on the rhetoric of identity politics to gain recognition without addressing redistribution and systems of oppression. Through three case studies culminating in a comparative study of three Cape Town based lgbti NGOs, Triangle Project, Luleki Sizwe, and Intersex South Africa, it becomes apparent that neo-liberalism and the State have reigns over the possibility of social transformation. This brings us closer to understand the systems and hierarchies which exist in lgbti organizations dictating the direction of their political agendas through a professionalized model. This leads to the investigation of the queer bodies that are displaced by the discourse and activism fostered by such organizations. As queer theory has not been developed in a South African context, this study centralizes the use of queer discourse while substantiating and weaving through dominant ideologies of lgbti social transformation. Ultimately, the sphere of possibility and limitations of the NGO Industrial Complex’s liberal co-optation of social justice will be highlighted and profoundly understood.


Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Work, Economy and Organizations



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