The scale and brutality of the May 2008 xenophobic attacks in South Africa elicited among domestic and international onlookers a sense of horror and shock. These attacks were prefigured by multiple instances of xenophobic violence throughout the country in the preceding years. This paper argues that it is necessary to understand some of the forces underlying these attacks through the situated practices of migrants. This article focuses on some of the everyday practices of migrants in South African cities surrounding access to housing as well as more general experiences of violence, exclusion, and mobility within the city. Focusing on migrant perceptions of safety within the city, volatility of housing conditions, the racialisation of space through resurgent forms of cultural racism, state surveillance through identity documentation and policing, and the role of Pentecostal churches in renegotiating belonging in the city, this paper offers some first steps toward developing an analysis of xenophobia attentive to everyday practice and points to potential areas for future research. This paper asks what sorts of challenges the foregoing analysis presents to existing analyses of African cities, in particular the work of AbdouMaliq Simone.


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pp. 66-86
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