Worrier State

Risk, anxiety and moral panic in South Africa
  • Publication Date: May 2022
  • Dimensions and Pages: 216mm x 138mm Extent: 248pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-788-5
  • Rights: Africa – print only
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 300.00

Worrier State looks at the pervasive culture of fear in South Africa. It reveals how narratives of fear manifest in contemporary media forms and the people they serve, and how these are impacted by race, class, gender, space and identity. Through an interdisciplinary body of work, and using a case-based study approach, media analyst Nicky Falkof investigates how risk, anxiety and moral panic show up in media portrayals in modern South Africa. Her main intervention in this approach is through ‘affect’: how do South Africans feel about living under conditions of extreme fear, which is related to gross inequality, and how does the media make us feel?

Together, these essays about ‘white genocide’, ‘Satanist’ murders, township urban legends and suburban community groups present an always-partial and necessarily contingent picture of some of the ways in which cultures of fear structure life and meaning for various people in various communities. They show how narratives of fear underpin everyday life, informing both self-making and meaning-making in contemporary South Africa.

Keywords: urban communities; Johannesburg, South Africa; ‘kill the boer’; imagined
fear; white fear; urban legend; xenophobia; crime; gated communities; security estates;
Johannesburg after apartheid; post-apartheid city; global-south city; Cultures of fear;
African cultural studies; emotional landscapes of contemporary South Africa

Chapter 1 Risk, anxiety and moral panic
Chapter 2 ‘White genocide’ and the marketing of minority victims
Chapter 3 Christian nightmares
Chapter 4 Drugs, crime and consumption in Alexandra
Chapter 5 Safe selves versus good selves in the suburbs
Conclusion: Risky business

Nicky Falkof is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

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