Pervasive But Not the Political Order: Violence, Xenophobia and Insecurity in Townships

Published on 2 September 2013

The South African team set out to explore the xenophobic violence of the last ten years that characterises many poor, black, urban settlements in the major cities of South Africa.

The project moved from the assumptions that the xenophobic violence was (i) driven by armed non-state actors, and thus constituted a form of (ii) non-state rule by such groups, even if this rule was (iii) limited both in space to particular poor, black urban township, and in time to the expression of violence for moments (at most days) when the authority of the state was surpassed.

These ideas were explored through a case-study site of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay, Cape Town, a settlement of around 30 000 people with a significant number of foreign residents and a history of at least some xenophobic violence. Data was gathered through mixed methods including a survey of 306 households, over a dozen interviews with key community leaders, and a series of half a dozen Participatory Action Research workshops with both local and foreign respondents, community leaders and ‘normal’ residents.

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published by
Piper, L. and Wheeler, J.
Agency and Governance Policy Brief 5


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