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The right to the city in Cape Town: mapping the experience of Congolese nationals

Authors: Fadima Maiga*, Université Cergy Pontoise
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Africa, Urban Geography
Keywords: mapping, xenophobia, participatory mapping, refugees, migrants, integration
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Rooted in Lefebvre’s definition and more recent interpretations of the notion of right to the city, I used space as a mean to determine foreigners’ (from the Democratic Republic of Congo) integration in South African communities. In a city that has been marked by apartheid and remains spatially divided, how can foreigners find places to inhabit in peace and create meaningful relationships with the locals? My work analyses the links between sociability places often visited by the Congolese people of Cape Town and the state of their spatial (access to the metropolis) and social (links to their neighborhood and South-African society) integration. To tackle those two forms of integration, I conducted interviews and produced participatory maps, mainly with Congolese people. The data collected allowed me to produce new maps to determine the most common road used by immigrants from the DRC to South Africa. Through the creation of new data and maps, I managed to reveal the strategies and reasons why some places that could serve as a mean to learn about the local cultures and integrate local communities were avoided, while others were seen as far more attractive. Amongst the main elements of explanation that surfaced was that the interviewed would avoid neighborhoods that were said to be dangerous whether or not they had had first-hand experiences of those places. It also appeared that the places they would favor had other sociability networks that would be a way to bypass xenophobia and spatial fragmentation.

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