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Social Cohesion against Xenophobic Tension: A Case Study of Yeoville, Johannesburg

By Toshihiro ABE and Obvious KATSAURA


Since 2008's xenophobic disturbances, living together has once again become an urgent agenda for South Africa, especially in sharply multi-ethnic urban milieus. Scholars and practitioners have attempted to identify both the causes of and possible preventative measures for these xenophobic outbreaks by discussing such topics as rising food and commodity prices, high unemployment rates, and lack of local leadership. However, these inquiries have been unable to identify what mechanism in areas with a heavy migrant presence may prevent a retreat into violent conflict. This paper focuses on the networks and activities of local civil societies of Yeoville, including migrant organisations, and explores what alternatives are functioning to mitigate and regulate lingering tension among locals. From observing the activities of "streetlevel mediators" without official power or status, particularly their indirect intervention into potential sites of conflict, this case study submits the following arguments within the theoretical context of the social cohesion debate that: 1) the concept of control may not befit attempts to counter exclusionist movements in sharply diverse situations, and 2) the catalytic actor can be effective in a context characterised by multiple centres of power

Topics: Social cohesion, Xenophobia, Mediation, Migrant, Johannesburg, 389.4
Publisher: The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
Year: 2016
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