Afro-Indo Agendas: South Asian female migration to South Africa and the shaping of urban space

Afro-Indo Agendas: South Asian female migration to South Africa and the shaping of urban space

The research locates the everyday practices of South Asian migrant communities in South Africa within the chronicles of transoceanic narratives, providing insights into the spatialities associated with diasporic communities through a gender conscious perspective. It embraces inter-generational and inherited knowledge to create new categories in which the city can be investigated, navigating the intricate networks of internalised household micro-transactions and community organisation.

Female migration to South Africa has always been rife with hardship leaving women defenceless in foreign locations. At the same time women have been key to the establishment of ethnic communities promoting culture and religion, and being social and political activists in their communities. The stories of agency, independence and freedom are counterpoised by narratives of abandonment and separation.

The aim of this research is to add a notion of women-produced Afro-Indian spaces to our categories of urban form. Through ethnographic knowledge, the ambition is to challenge the principles of universality, ignoring or subordinating design to the dominant paradigms of modernism and to embrace “otherness” as regards place, time, issues and cultures. Further, it explores architecture and urban design that speaks across gender divides blending domestic and political concerns, articulating social narratives of a diasporic community that is rooted locally, but deeply integrated in Indian social networks of family and village.

This research explores the need to consider how these forms of community appropriation of space can be legitimised. More specifically:

  • How can architecture be made more culturally relevant so that it incorporates the hybridity and fluidity of modern identities, enabling alternative narratives and forms?
  • Where is architecture heading in terms of serving society and how can one learn from context in order to define a new alternative paradigm in the way we practice?

 

PhD student working on this project: Amina Kaskar

Supervisors: Hilde Heynen and Hannah Le Roux

Categories: PhD projects