Spaces of contestation: the everyday experiences of ten African migrants in Cape Town

Master Thesis

2012

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University of Cape Town

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Xenophobia in South Africa is so overt that it has take a covert form. The 'xenocide' events that took place in 2008 were called xenophobic acts. It is the recurrent denialism of xenophobia on an everyday basis that this project has explored through the narrative accounts of ten African migrants in Cape Town. The lived everyday experiences of ten African migrants have brought forward the central argument of this thesis. From the data, it is evident that as a reponse to everyday pressures of prejudices and xenophobia in social and physical spaces, African migrants have developed mutable, unsettled and vagrant identities in order to cope with everyday low level violence. This argument emerged as four key stressors have been identified as the components of a more substantial explanation of xenophobia in South Africa. The four key components are: the enforcement of identity (national and group), the demarcation of spaces of belonging, the experiences of economic insecurity, and lastly a 'culture of violence' in South Africa. This thesis argues that these four stressors are the result of an on-going active process of xenophobic attitudes.
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