Accepted paper:

The Politics of Difference: Orange Farm


Sarah-Jane Cooper-Knock (University of Edinburgh)
Emma Monama (Institute for Geography)

Paper short abstract:

Our work explores the politics of difference within Orange Farm - a space that is both geographically, politically and economically on the urban margins. In doing so, we challenge oversights in the current literature on xenophobia in South Africa.

Paper long abstract:

Our work seeks to understand the politics of difference in Orange Farm - a space on the geographic, political and economic margins of urban South Africa. We did so in an effort to re-embed discussions of xenophobia into broader explorations of being and belonging in the country. For, whilst there is undoubtedly a rich literature on xenophobia in South Africa, this research remains overly focused on spectacular acts of violence between 'foreigners' and 'South Africans'. By exploring the notion of difference more broadly, we were able to look at the everyday negotiation of belonging in Orange Farm and to unsettle the categories such as 'migrant' and 'local'. 'Difference' is a useful analytical entry point, we argue, because unlike the concept of marginality, it is not always and already hierarchical. By engaging with the idea of 'difference' we were able to gain a critical distance from the concept of marginality. In doing so, we could more effectively explore: What does it mean to be marginalised? How can this term help us to uncover and analyse people's lived experiences? In what ways does the existing literature draw our attention to particular forms of marginality at the exclusion of others?

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The politics of life on the urban margins in South Africa