“We too are disabled”: disability grants and poverty politics in rural South Africa

Camilla Hansen and Washeila Sait

in Disability and poverty

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9781847428851
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302063 | DOI:
“We too are disabled”: disability grants and poverty politics in rural South Africa

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  • Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility


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This chapter examines the relationship between disability and poverty in the new democratic South Africa. During this country's transitional period, a new conceptual understanding of disability has mainstreamed disability in new policies and laws. The anthropological material presented here shows how these processes of programme implementation have shaped people's social experiences in rural areas of the Eastern Cape, around Mthatha. The history of apartheid, with its establishment of structural inequalities, has created a specific type of poverty forming people's social experiences as well as their understanding of disability. The chapter also discusses the local conceptualising of disability and Ubuntu in the surrounding areas of Mthatha. In this setting, disability grants are a tool of survival for both the person with a disability and the household. In addition, the grants contribute to establishing a commonly shared disability category that people make use of.

Keywords: South Africa; disability; poverty; Mthatha; apartheid; structural inequalities; Ubuntu

Chapter.  12130 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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