Crystal Powell

Research Proposal Summary

Langa Township in Cape Town, South Africa owes its existence to internal migration (Wilson & Mafeje 1963; Wilson 1972). Like the rest of South Africa, Langa has experienced an influx of migrants from other parts of the continent. In South Africa, the logic of exclusion has facilitated a tendency to perceive and relate to migrants essentially in terms of “outsiders” and to confine them to a real or imagined “elsewhere” (Nyamnjoh 2006). This logic, however, is not exclusive to South Africa (Stolcke 1995; Wright 1998; Geschiere 2009; Comaroff & Comaroff 2009). Where Langa used to temporarily house “outsiders” who were reluctantly accommodated by the “insiders” of then apartheid Cape Town, currently, in post-apartheid Cape Town, Langa comprises formal internal migrant “outsiders” now turned “insiders” and “citizens”, in addition to new “outsiders” who are immigrants from other parts of Africa. This complex reality suggests that belonging, even amongst those who claim to come from the same country is rarely homogenous or opened to everyone at the same level. The attractions and tensions of unequal encounters in Cape Town and Langa are of interest in this study. Also of interest is if and how migrants in Langa, old and new, have used and are using communication technologies, indigenous and modern, to maintain relationships and memories with people and places left behind while simultaneously using the same technologies to create and maintain new relationships in their new “home”, however temporarily. This study, as both a contribution towards correcting the idea of technological determinism and recognizing the agency of Africans as social actors being conscious and purposeful of technological innovations, is thus both historical and ethnographic in its focus on the making of flexible identities and ideas of belonging among different categories of migrants in Langa.


2 thoughts on “Crystal Powell

    […] Crystal Powell […]

    chris said:
    September 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    sounds interesting

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