This article is about representations of poverty and governmental frameworks for addressing poverty in postapartheid South Africa. It is, therefore, also about “the poor,” about their place in society and the ways they intervene in the making of the present. The article returns to a South African metaphor—Thabo Mbeki's “two economies” thesis—focused on the problem of poverty, its causes, and the governmental approach to combating it. This discussion shows how the work of Partha Chatterjee helps us understand the governmental problems Mbeki's representations reframe and their relationship to forms of contemporary capitalism and governmentality, as well as the emerging practices through which the poor “invade” the political and impact the frameworks targeting them. But the essay also suggests that, in following these threads, we need to push beyond Chatterjee's conceptual framework, with implications for how we think about the state, its relationship to capitalist development, and the political practices of subaltern classes.

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