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Queen's University

Special Nugent Event

November 6, 2014 - 5:30 p.m. - Robert Sutherland Hall


Jean Comaroff, Harvard University

“The Return of Khulekani Khumalo, Zombie Captive: Identity, Law, and Paradoxes of Personhood in the Postcolony.”

What might imposture tell us about personhood in ‘postcolonial’ times? About the means of producing selfhood, identity, social viability? While the figure of the false double has long haunted Western ideas of personhood, imposture of various kinds has become ever more striking in late modern times. It is especially common in post-apartheid South Africa, for instance, where identity theft, plagiarism, fakery, even counterfeit crime are everyday occurrences. Taking a celebrated national case – the alleged ‘return’ of a famous Zulu musician who died three years ago – this lecture explores what such acts of imposture might tell us about postcolonial self-fashioning, about personhood under contemporary social conditions, and about the difficulties posed by all this for law, evidence, and the meaning of recognition.

Reception to follow


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000