Monday, May 7, 2007

Ralph Callebert

Ralph Callebert
Ralph Callebert is a Belgian Masters student at the Economic History Department at UKZN.

In his chapter, Undressing the crime discourse in South Africa, Ralph reflects on the fixation with talking & writing about crime in South Africa. He argues that one of the problems concerns the way crime is de-historicised, invoked as a symbol for all that is wrong with the post-apartheid era. Ralph does not deny the reality of crime, but his specific interest is in a contemporary ‘moral panic’ that characterises South Africa as a crime ridden country, dramatising the threat to ‘ordinary’ citizens of immoral and amoral Others. ‘Moral panics’ are defined as exaggerated reactions to perceived threats to imagined social norms posed by groups cast in the role of ‘folk devils’. The Others in question are almost always imagined as black males. Ralph suggests that complaining about crime may represent one socially sanctioned way of expressing racist sentiments about blacks.

Callebert, Ralph. 'Undressing the crime discourse in South Africa', in Rob Pattman and Sultan Khan (Eds.), Undressing Durban (Durban: Madiba Press, 2007), pp. 243-249.