From ‘real’ cityscapes as in Ivan Vladislavić’s Portrait with Keys. The City of Johannesburg Unlocked or in Phaswane Mpe’s Welcome to our Hillbrow to fantastic, science fiction-near to future urbanity as in Lauren Beukes’ Moxyland or Zoo City, (re)reading/(re)mapping the South African urban space poses a range of questions: Can South African cities be seen as dynamic sites of challenge to the contemporary and historical socio-political and economic world order?
CITIES IN FLUX: Metropolitan Spaces/Places Literary and Visual Texts
University of Johannesburg, October 5-6, 2018
Open to the public
What kind of new autonomies are emerging in (South)African urban spaces, despite the often-harsh material conditions? How can we begin to deconstruct (South) African urban spaces in order to find ways of contesting the predominantly negative typecasting of African cityscapes? What theoretical, cultural, social and analytical tools do (South) African urban spaces produce as we attempt to understand an increasingly urbanized world? Can, in fact, South African cities provide us with settings in which newer, more cosmopolitan notions about urbanism and society can be discovered? How do new cultural topographies of South African cities emerge in literary and visual texts?
This project connects junior and senior authors/artists and academics from South Africa and Switzerland in a joint exploration of artistic and discursive practices of creating and interpreting urbanisation and societal change in South African/Swiss texts and contexts. Embedded in a series of readings, performances and discussions this workshop will involve authors and academics in a mutual exchange. Thus, via a „regard croisé“ (Elisio Macamo) participants might perform and address even complex issues in view of inspiring new trajectories of thought and imagination.
By examining literary and visual urban space we gain access to new archives of cultural transformational processes. The three cities at stake, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban —here beginning with Johannesburg— offer unique settings of how urban cultural space and meanings are produced and understood.
Prof. Ronit Frenkel, UJ,
Prof. Therese Steffen, University of Basel