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Title:We Have Contact: Foreign Migration and Civic Participation in Marconi Beam, Cape Town
Author:McDonald, David A.
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:ethnic relations
Politics and Government
Urbanization and Migration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/486108
Abstract:Two national surveys conducted in 1997 and 1998 show that South Africans hold strongly negative views about (im)migrants, especially those from other African countries, despite the fact that only 4-6 percent of those surveyed said that they had a 'great deal of contact' with people from other African countries. Clearly, anti-immigrant sentiment in South Africa is not a result of personal experience with noncitizens, but rather a product of (mis)information from secondary sources. The present article examines whether direct contact between citizens and noncitizens would help to alleviate anti-immigrant attitudes and behaviour. It looks at a case study of Marconi Beam, an informal settlement in Cape Town that has been home to a wide range of migrants from different parts of Africa and where a considerable amount of interaction does take place between migrants and citizens. The research was originally conducted as part of a larger set of case studies on access to housing by noncitizens. The article begins with a brief history of Marconi Beam and some basic demographic information on the people interviewed. The ensuing discussion focuses on the kind of social interaction that has taken place between citizens and noncitizens in the community, as well as the interaction between noncitizens themselves, and how these modes of contact may have contributed to a lack of integration on the part of noncitizen residents and their virtual exclusion from new housing development. The article concludes with some thoughts on how the South African government could better incorporate community-level dynamics into its broader national immigration policy plans. Notes, sum. in French.