Original Articles

Constraints to public sphere activity in Joubert Park, Johannesburg

Ingrid E. Marais

Page 173-186

The link between public sphere and public space has long been established within the literature. Using three aspects of public sphere — plurality, public space and deliberate talk — I argue that the management choices that the City of Johannesburg made in Joubert Park led to a lack of public spheres developing inside the park. I explore this dearth of public sphere activities by looking at the municipality’s formal by-laws and their application in the park, the punitive manner in which “informal” rules were enforced within the park and the perception that Johannesburgers and City Parks had of the space and its users. The findings indicate that the City of Johannesburg chose to manage the park in a manner that enhanced its goal of becoming an African World Class City at the cost of strengthening democracy within the park.

Subjects: Johannesburg, Joubert Park, neoliberalisms, public space, public spheres,


“Original Venda hustler”: symbols, generational difference and the construction of ethnicity in post-apartheid South Africa

Fraser G. McNeill

Page 187-203

This paper provides an ethnographic analysis of contemporary articulations of “Vendaness” in Pretoria, South Africa. Current ethnic identifications articulate recent fluctuations in political, economic and social dynamics. Two case studies are offered as evidence. I evoke Turner’s symbolism to demonstrate that car stickers of the old Venda flag unite “the Venda” while at the same time dividing Tshivenda speakers into groups with loyalties to rival traditional leaders. Car stickers create and maintain metaphorical and actual borders that fuel re-imaginings of the previous homeland in contemporary urban settings. Secondly, I examine the emergence of an urban youth movement through which young men advertise with alacrity their ethnic affiliations. With captions like “Original Venda Hustler” and “I’m Venda, So What?!,” a younger generation of Tshivenda speakers has reinterpreted the notion of “being Venda”: from a stereotypically secretive and mysterious minority group to a conspicuous presence in the cityscape. I look at generational divisions as a way of interpreting this recent manipulation of materiality, and suggest that the connection between the two case studies is to be found in the dynamics of a dual crisis of masculinity in which young and older men have responded to changing socio-economic dynamics in divergent ways.

Subjects: ethnicity, flags, hustler, Venda, youth,


“Ndiyindoda” [I am a man]: theorising Xhosa masculinity

Sakhumzi Mfecane

Page 204-214

Masculinity studies in South Africa depend on Western gender theories to frame research questions and fieldwork. This article argues that such theories offer a limited understanding of Xhosa constructions of masculinity. Xhosa notions of masculinity are embodied in the concept of indoda, meaning a traditionally circumcised person. This article explores the nuanced meanings of indoda and its relationship to other masculinities, like uncircumcised boys [inkwenkwe] and medically circumcised men. The discussion reveals that indoda is the most “honoured” form of masculinity. A traditionally circumcised individual is regarded as indoda, a real man, irrespective of his sexual orientation or class, and this affords him certain rights and privileges. Inkwenkwe and medically circumcised men embody “subordinate” forms of masculinity and are victims of stigma and discrimination by indoda. This requires us to revisit some Western theories of masculinity which place heterosexual men at the top of a masculine hierarchy and gay men at the bottom. It furthermore requires us to pay attention to the body when theorising Xhosa masculinity, since it is a principal way of “proving” and “defending” Xhosa manhood.

Subjects: hegemonic masculinity, indoda, South Africa, theory from the South, Xhosa,


The meaning of compliance with land and labour legislation: understanding justice through farm workers’ experiences in the Eastern Cape

Femke Brandt

Page 215-231

This paper explores the social meanings and uses of formal labour legislation on commercial farms in the Eastern Cape. Farm workers’ and dwellers’ experiences expose ongoing land and labour struggles on South Africa’s commercial farms. We focus on the ways that farm workers resist and negotiate persistent power imbalances, how they access justice, and the role of mediators. The empirical material was generated through long-term research with farm workers and dwellers on farms, including on land-reform farms, in the semi-arid Karoo. In this area, the farming sector is dominated by large sheep, cattle, game and crop farms with relative low labour demands. Historically, authority and notions of justice have been negotiated through personalised relations and interdependencies between black workers and white farmers. New landowners build on existing understandings of authority and power entrenched in private property relations in rural society.

Subjects: farm workers, Karoo, land reform, power relations, private property, social justice,


Photo Essay

Metropolitan nomads: a journey through Jo’burg’s “little Mogadishu”

Nereida Ripero-Muñiz

Page 232-240

Mayfair, a Johannesburg suburb, is a place where the lives of hundreds of Somalis intersect: a space of opportunity for some, a place of refuge for others, and a home away from home for the Somali diaspora in the city. This is a multi-layered site where Somali migrants, as urban refugees, renegotiate their cultural and religious practices in a foreign, metropolitan context; where spaces and customs that were left behind are recreated in the daily life of the neighbourhood. Using photography and an ethnographic approach, “Metropolitan Nomads” is a collaborative project between researcher Nereida Ripero-Muñiz and documentary photographer Salym Fayad. The project takes an intimate look at the everyday life of Somali migrants in Johannesburg, where collective stories of migration and survival interweave with individual desires and hopes of seeking a better life outside a country shattered by decades of internal conflict.

Subjects: identity, Johannesburg, refugees, representation, Somali diaspora, space,


Reinscriptions of “stateless” socialities in South Africa: some thoughts on “Metropolitan nomads: a journey through Jo’burg’s ‘little Mogadishu’”

Daniel K. Thompson

Page 241-244

In this commentary, Daniel K. Thompson critically assesses Nereida Ripero-Muñiz and Salym Fayad’s photo essay, “Metropolitan Nomads: A Journey through Jo’burg’s ‘Little Mogadishu.’ The essay is published alongside this commentary.

Subjects: Johannesburg, photo essay, Somali migrants, South Africa, transnationalism,



Obituary: Patrick Allan Lifford Harries (1950–2016)

Andrew D. Spiegel

Page 245-247


Book Reviews

Regarding Muslims: from slavery to post-apartheid

Dorothea E. Schulz

Page 248-249

Remaking Mutirikwi: landscape, water and belonging in southern Zimbabwe

Marja Spierenburg

Page 250-252

Hostels, homes, museum: memorialising migrant labour pasts in Lwandle, South Africa

Duane Jethro

Page 253-254

Money from nothing: indebtedness and aspiration in South Africa

Hemali Joshi

Page 255-256