Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: May 2019


    • By Loren B Landau, South African Research Chair in Human Mobility and the Politics of Difference at the African Centre for Migration & Society at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Tanya Pampalone, Global Investigative Journalism Network, a non-profit based in Washington, DC
  • Edited by Loren Landau, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Tanya Pampalone
  • Publisher: Wits University Press
  • pp xvii-xviii


All books are collective endeavours, this collection perhaps more than most. Although we, as editors, conceptualised the text and shepherded its production, few of the words within these covers are our own. In contemporary urban studies, cities are often described as co-productions: the result of interactions among officials and residents, developers, global economic conditions and even meteorological forces. While weather played a minimal role, this text is undeniably the result of many hands and voices. Without the narrators who told their stories and the writers who captured them, it would not exist. Only their dedication and diversity – linguistic, legal, national, class, professional, political – allowed us to compile these stories. There are undoubtedly still gaps; voices and perspectives that remain missing. Despite the book's undeniable shortcomings and silences, we must not underestimate the importance of sharing these accounts.

There are a number of other people and institutions who offered this project their witting and unwitting support as well. First among these is South Africa's National Research Foundation. Through their research chair initiative, we garnered the financial support needed to undertake a project with no immediate practical benefits. We are grateful for the opportunity this gave us to reflect so critically and creatively on what South Africa is and what it is becoming. The University of the Witwatersrand provided further in-kind support and an institutional home for our motley crew. Wits University Press – particularly Roshan Cader, Andrew Joseph and Inga Norenius – have provided invaluable support in realising this book. We would like to thank Karabo Kgoleng for her thoughtful and generous foreword, and artist Senzo Shabangu, whose own work continuously tackles issues of migration and a search for home, for allowing us to use his image on the cover of this collection. We must also flag the important contributions made by Emma Monama, who helped navigate the university's somewhat byzantine administrative systems in ways which enabled our narrators and writers to get the resources required to complete the project. As a street-smart South African, she also proved indispensable in compiling the glossary of local terms and places. Lenore Longwe, as is her wont, provided logistical support and warm-hearted administrative advice. Kabiri Bule assembled the timeline, which helps situate the people and processes the following pages describe. Barbara Ludman and Aneesa Fazel reviewed the copy before submission and provided essential feedback.