Accepted paper:

Remaking religion, rethinking space: how migrants are transforming ethnically bound notions of religion and perceptions of urban space in Johannesburg

Authors:

Zaheera Jinnah (University of Witwatersrand)
Pragna Rugunanan (University of Johannesburg)

Paper short abstract:

In South Africa's post-apartheid era, new waves of migrants from South Asia, and North and East Africa have settled in Fordsburg, a suburb located on the western periphery of Johannesburg's city centre.

Paper long abstract:

Animated by the 'nature of contemporary diversity (see Vertovec 2010: 87), and the politics of space (Painter 2008; Campbell 1998), this paper examines how the religious lives, expressions, and rituals of international migrants explain the production of space, and the (re)positioning of ethnic and religious groups in the city. Drawing on original empirical research and historical data, we argue that international migrants are physically and spiritually shaping the spaces in which they live and work, and that this process helps to explain their power and position in In South Africa's post-apartheid era, new waves of migrants from South Asia, and North and East Africa have settled in Fordsburg, a suburb located on the western periphery of Johannesburg's city centre. Many of these migrants are Hindu or Muslim and the symbols, structures and sites of their worship and faith are evident in the physical and spiritual landscape of Fordsburg. Drawing on the literature on the production and power of space, we show how the religious lives, rituals, and expressions of new migrants have engaged and transformed physical and meta physical space, that is the nature of form and order in Fordsburg, Johannesburg. The ability to influence, and shape the physical space in which they live, or on the contrary, to be subverted within the territories, that is to be subjected to the social, political and spatial order which they inhabit we argue, demonstrates the position and power, or lack thereof, of migrants in communities.

panel Rel03
In search of faith: itinerant religiosities and negotiated moralities in Asia