News & events


Xenophobic Violence in South Africa: Critical Reflections on Current explanations

30 June 2015
12:30 - 13:30

Jean Pierre Misago
(African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand)

Date:  Tuesday, 30 June      

Time: 12:30  – 13:30

Venue:    VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Xenophobic violence is increasingly becoming a longstanding feature in post-Apartheid South Africa and efforts to explain its underlying and immediate causes have intensified since the unprecedented wave of violence in May 2008. Unfortunately, a critical review of existing explanations reveals that, while valuable in identifying the socio-economic and political context within which violence occurs, they fall short as scientific explanations for the occurrence of the violence.

The review reveals two main weaknesses. First, causal factors provided by most explanations are long-standing and common across most of the country’s towns, townships and informal settlements and, can therefore not explain violence in some and not in others. Second, most of existing explanatory models offer reductionist, one-factor, mono-causal explanations for such a complex social phenomenon and as such can be at best partial or incomplete. To be complete, explanations need to be able to account for all the determinants of the violence and their interdependence, i.e. all the critical elements of the violence causal chain.

Thus far, explanations have missed critical elements in the causal chain including the localised political economy of the violence, mobilisation and local governance.

Jean Pierre Misago is a researcher with the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.   With a background in Education Sciences, Psychology, Forced Migration and Humanitarian Assistance, his research interests include: i) the exploration of the effects of migration and displacement on identity and belonging, ii) understanding of xenophobia and violent outsider exclusion, and iii) management of migration and human mobility at local authority level.

The seminar may be attended in Pretoria, Cape Town or Durban

RSVP by 29 June
Cape Town: Carmen August (021) 466 7827,   12th Floor, Plein Park Building, Plein Street, Cape Town
Durban: Ridhwaan Khan (031) 242 5400,   1st Floor, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor
Pretoria: Arlene Grossberg (012) 302 2811,  1st  Floor, HSRC Building, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria