Marcel Paret. 2015. “Violence and Democracy in South Africa's Community Protests.” Review of African Political Economy 42(143): 107-123.
Abstract: Community protests in South Africa are often described as violent. Drawing from newspaper articles, interviews with protesters and statements by public officials, this paper unpacks the meaning of ‘violent protest'. It shows that violence is both ambiguous and deeply entangled with democracy. On the one hand, violent practices may become a tool of liberation, promoting democracy by empowering marginalised groups. On the other hand, democracy may become a tool of domination, undermining dissent by constituting as violent those persons and actions that deviate from formal institutional channels. The analysis urges scholars to adopt a critical and nuanced view of violence.