Architecture-by-migrants: the porous infrastructures of Bellville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper takes as its subject a series of contingent mixed-use urban markets that have been established in Cape Town, South Africa, by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from various parts of the African continent. It argues that migrant spaces are historically and spatially situated, and constructed both by their wider urban context and the specifics of the patterns of forced migration. In South Africa, the literature on migrant spaces has largely focused on inner-city Johannesburg, emphasizing the creativity of spatial practices. This paper focuses on emerging pan-African markets created by migrants in the northern Cape Town suburb of Bellville. The paper adopts Walter Benjamin’s approach of “writing the arcades” in order to read the spaces of these markets through a complementary method of spatial ethnography and archival research. This research approach is grounded in the broader anthropological approaches and architectural fieldwork methods. The resultant multi-scalar reading of informal migrant markets, not usually found in spatial archives, questions dominant readings of formality and informality in postcolonial contexts.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-58
Number of pages13
JournalAnthropology Southern Africa
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019

Related information

Publications

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

View all (2)