News & events


Understanding the drivers and consequences of Xenophobia, and reflecting on a multi-sectoral approach to response

19 September 2019
09:00 - 13:00

19 September 2019 | 9:00 – 13:00 | Manhattan Hotel, Pretoria

Panel of Speakers:
Dr Steven Gordon, DGSD, HSRC
Prof Sylvester Maphosa, AISA, HSRC
Dr Slindile Mlilo, African Centre for Migration & Society, Wits University
Dr Cuthbert Tagwirei, Centre for Diversity Studies, Wits University 
Prof Christopher Isike (University of Pretoria)

Dr Konosoang Sobane, RIA, HSRC
The HSRC would like to invite you to a half day symposium on “The drivers and consequences of Xenophobia, and reflection on a multi-sectoral approach to responses” to be held in the Manhattan Hotel, Pretoria, on the 19th September, at 09:00 to 1:00. The dialogue has been organised as a matter of urgency given the recent spate of violent attacks on migrants in South Africa. The attacks has resuscitated local and international debates on xenophobia, coming from a multiplicity of sources, including mainstream and social media, as well as political narrative positions. 

Various sentiments about not only the definitions, drivers and enablers of xenophobia and associated violence, but also proposed solutions and responses have been widely shared. It has however become apparent that these violent attacks, regardless of whether they are labelled xenophobia, Afrophobia, township thuggery or criminality, are quite complex and are moulded by a multiplicity of factors (Ndinda and Ndlhovu 2016), such as social attitudes towards foreigners, current unemployment trends, and poverty. Others sources attribute the causes to the political weakness of vulnerable groups in that they do not have the political power to blame others e.g. the bourgeoisie, politicians, domestic and foreign capital, therefore they direct their anger to those seemingly less powerful than them (in this case foreigners).  This complexity implies that responses need to be multi-faceted and be informed by multiple layers of evidence. Gordon (forthcoming HSRC policy brief) shows that very often policy actors have the commitment to address xenophobia but they are confronted with lack of quality data on how to change public attitudes, and fragmented and contradictory sources of information, a situation which impacts on the anti-xenophobia efforts of government. 

In cognisance of this complexity of xenophobia, the HSRC through the Research Unit and Impact Assessment (RIA) will hold a multi-stakeholder symposium on xenophobia. The workshop brings together a diverse range of stakeholders including researchers, policy actors, media and civil society. The objective of this workshop is to create a space for dialogue and sharing of evidence informed perspectives and ideas that will facilitate a better understanding of the phenomena, and to illuminate some of the voices that are often less heard in these discussions. The ultimate aim of the forum is develop proposals of multi-sectoral and multifaceted programmes of action which include programmatic, policy and socio-cultural actions that can be carried out in response to this problem.  Your presence will be highly appreciated.