Every person’s identity is deeply shaped by their sense of belonging and place, for some people, this is defined by where they are legally recognised, for many, their sense of belonging is uncertain or unrecognised by the state within which they reside.
While the exact number of people affected by statelessness in Southern Africa is unknown it is a preventable and growing phenomenon affecting the region and globe. Nationality and its deprivation in Southern Africa have been shaped by colonialism and apartheid, border changes, poor civil registration systems, discrimination on grounds of class and race, migration, and gaps and conflicts within nationality law. This has left an increasing number of people with precarious nationality status and a sense of belonging. And given our colonial and racist past, race, class, and gender define who has been affected disproportionality.
The effects of statelessness on individuals who are stateless or at risk of becoming stateless are compounding and often life-long. Statelessness impacts a person’s ability to access social services, including education, health, and social protection, they often struggle to open bank accounts, find stable employment, and access tertiary education.
The Southern African Nationality Network (SANN), in partnership with the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Southern Africa (RBSA), is launching a visual art competition as part of the #IBelong Campaign. The purpose of the competition is to spotlight statelessness as a preventable challenge in the region, and bring awareness and solidarity to those who are stateless or at risk of statelessness.
Theme: The theme for this art competition is Insider | Outsider.
A key dilemma in the idea and practice of citizenship is the way in which citizenship, as a relationship between the state and the individual, it is in reality a relationship between the state and groupings representing particularistic identities. These relationships were constructed via the exercise of state power by colonial authorities, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which sought to impose a centralising authority on otherwise multicultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic societies with dispersed authority structures regulating relations between groupings and has led to the question we have all been asked: ‘where are you from?’. The answer to this question is not static we are connected to places and spaces beyond where we are born. In a single place or space, we can be the insider and the outsider, all seeking a similar sense of belonging.
In light of the above, the project partners invite submissions from young visual artists based in Southern Africa whose work grapples with themes of nationality, identity, place-making, migration, and belonging.