Granting the Future? The Temporality of Cash Transfers in the South African Countryside
Palavras-chave:Transferências de renda, valor, distribuição, trabalho, futuro, África do Sul
In the past five years, anthropologistsfrom the global South have come to consider publiccash transfer programs as an alternative to both work-centered policies and national development projects. These studiessuggest that grantstoday go beyond the domain of traditionalsocial policies and government bureaucracy and point to a new future in view of the scarcity of work. This future has become even closer with the pandemic of COVID-19, and with governments, non-governmental entities and the political lef t reaffirming the importance of a basic universal income. Considering these discussions, my article focuses on an income transfer program in South Africa af ter the Apartheid period, placing an ethnographic account in relation to the design of a ‘progressive’ policy of social grants. I present a longer history ofsalaried work in relation to rural African households and show how the emancipatory promises of cash transfer projects were read as a risk to local traditions and morals. In addition to thisreduction in political hopesinvested in transfers, I examine the temporal aspect ofcash transfers, as well asthe possible futuresthey evoke. By considering the futuresthat grants enable, Iconclude by suggesting that it is premature to affirm that they have overcome wage work and its attendantsociality.
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