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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Africa Thina'? Xenophobic and cosmopolitan agency in Johannesburg's film and television drama
Author:Kruger, LorenISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
urban life
social relations
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070802685676
Abstract:The characterization of Johannesburg (South Africa) as a city of crime perpetrated by foreigners and other outsiders is as old as the city itself. What is new in the postapartheid period is the tension between the fear of foreigners as shadowy figures who allegedly spirit away the livelihoods of locals, and the attempt, in planning as well as imaginative initiatives, to reconceive of strangers as cosmopolitan agents of new modes of 'belonging and becoming'. The cosmopolitan invoked here is less the Enlightenment concept of the knowing and usually wealthy citizen of the world who might transcend difference and conflict, than the informal cosmopolitan, the transnational migrant engaged in improvised economic, social and cultural exchange. Set in Johannesburg, films such as Zola Maseko's 'The Foreigner' (1997), and television serials from 'The Line' (1994) to 'Yizo Yizo' (2000-2002), 'Gaz'lam' (2002-2006) and 'A Place Called Home' (2006), suggest, in their portrayals of encounters between locals and strangers, the effects of built environments on character and action, and posit the roles of 'hosts' and 'guests' as alternatives to violent nativist attempts to expel strangers even if those 'strangers' turn out to be citizens. While South African official discourse has only recently addressed migrants, cinematic fictions have for at least a decade offered narratives of city life that look hopefully, but also plausibly, to a more cosmopolitan future. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]