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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Language and identity negotiations: an analysis of the experiences of Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa
Author:Siziba, Gugulethu
Periodical:Journal of African Cultural Studies (ISSN 1369-6815)
Geographic term:South Africa
language usage
Shona language
Ndebele language (Zimbabwe)
Abstract:This article focuses on Ndebele and Shona-speaking Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa, noting how their language varieties constitute capital ('entry fees') in negotiating their identity construction as outsiders. Theoretically, the article draws on diverse works on situated discourse, with Bourdieu's economy of social practices being the main anchor. In examining the role and value of language as entry fees in the situatedness of Zimbabweans in Johannesburg, the author deploys a multi-sited ethnography across three neighbourhoods of the city. The central argument of the article is that the value of language neither inheres in the language itself nor is it static. Instead, its value shifts according to the specific and contextual power dynamics underlying its interface and evaluation as an entry fee. Consequently, this fluctuation produces a complex continuum of 'Otherness' in which the experience of being Ndebele and Shona-speaking in Johannesburg is not homogenous, but takes on shifting meanings. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and Ndebele (or Shona). [Journal abstract]