Dienstag, 23. Mai 2017, 17:00 - 19:00 iCal


Blue Johannesburg

by Pamila Gupta, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Seminarram 3, Institut für Afrikawissenschaften
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 5, 1090 Wien


In this paper, I am interested in entwining affect, materiality and the diasporic imaginings of an older Portuguese immigrant community as a way to reorient our way of seeing contemporary Johannesburg. I look at certain Portuguese colonial signifiers in the making of its post-apartheid present. It is an experiment of sorts, an alternate format for writing (and visualizing) this city from the perspective of driving (as opposed to walking as De Certeau would have it) and in relation to the literary, ornamental and sensory as forms of infrastructure and affect. I focus on three traces: Portuguese monumentalism-statues and images of explorers Vasco da Gama and Bartolomeu Dias and poets Luis Camões and Fernando Pessoa appear inside church courtyards and in front of sporting clubs; Portuguese styled azulejo tilework covers the walls of corner shops and Catholic churches scattered throughout the southern suburbs of Johannesburg (Rosettenville, Turffontein, La Rochelle, Regents Park), and finally the colour blue that fills these spaces and acts as an architecture of memory for many Portuguese living in Southern Africa. Together, these residues potentially allow us to view Johannesburg as very much a Portuguese city that endures, particularly for its thriving diasporic community that is estimated between 350,000-500,000 persons.

Pamila Gupta is Associate Professor at WISER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research), at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. She is currently working on a new book manuscript entitled Ethnographies of Lusophone Decolonization in India and Southern Africa (forthcoming with Bloomsbury Press).

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Ulrike Auer
Institut für Afrikawissenschaften