The people of Long Street

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Giovanni Spissu


Bakhtin saw the street as a literary chronotope, a space-time fusion. In novels, the street isused to introduce the places where the story is set (a street in a village or a city). The streetdescribes the social climate and historical period in which the story unfolds. The street islinked to the individual fate of the characters (the route taken to leave their native town orthat taken towards the unknown). The street is, most importantly, the place of meetingwhere different lives converge with diverse ways of recounting the past and envisioningthe future. I argue that in ethnographic research, we can observe a street (or any otherurban place) and take it as a space-time fusion. Urban spaces take on a meaning when putinto relationship with their inhabitants' memories. Likewise, memories can be understoodthrough their projection on the urban spaces in which they take shape and evolve. For thisproject, I observed Long Street, a central street in Cape Town (South Africa). Taking thestreet as an intersection of the experiences and memories of its regulars, I was able toactivate a multi-perspective viewpoint on the city. Starting from Long Street, I followedthe lines of memory, desires, and imagination of its inhabitants, which started from thestreet and branched throughout Cape Town.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2014