'Anxious Joburg' - engagement with a frustrating, dangerous, seductive city

01 October 2020 - 15:14
'Anxious Joburg' focuses on the largest and wealthiest city in SA as a case study for the contemporary global south city.
'Anxious Joburg' focuses on the largest and wealthiest city in SA as a case study for the contemporary global south city.
Image: Supplied

Anxiety might be terrifying, says Kierkegaard, but it speaks to the possibility of possibility. So, too, do the luminous, edgy essays assembled here, that make palpable the abrasive friction, the alchemy of abjection and ebullience, that drives Johannesburg’s creativity and its unlikely glamour. — Professor Jean Comaroff, Harvard University

Anxious Joburg focuses on Johannesburg, the largest and wealthiest city in South Africa, as a case study for the contemporary global south city. Southern cities are often characterised as sites of contradiction and difference that produce a range of feelings around anxiety. This is often imagined in terms of the global north’s anxieties about the south as a source of migration, crime, terrorism, disease and environmental crisis. 

Anxious Joburg invites readers to consider an intimate perspective of living inside such a city. How does it feel to live in the metropolis of Johannesburg? What are the conditions, intersections, affects and experiences that mark the contemporary urban?

Scholars, visual artists and storytellers all look at unexamined aspects of Johannesburg life. From peripheral settlements and the inner city to the affluent northern suburbs, from precarious migrants and domestic workers to upwardly mobile young women and fearful elites, Anxious Joburg presents an absorbing engagement with this frustrating, dangerous, seductive city. It offers a rigorous, critical view of Johannesburg, revealing the way in which anxiety is a vital structuring principle of contemporary life.

The approach is strongly interdisciplinary, with contributions from fields including media studies, anthropology, religious studies, urban geography, migration studies and psychology. It will appeal to students and teachers as well as to academic researchers concerned with Johannesburg, SA, cities and the global South. The mix of approaches will also draw a non-academic audience.