Super-diversity, South Africa

Super-diversity, South Africa

Steven Vertovec, Robin Cohen (University of Oxford) and various colleagues at the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg, and Witwatersrand)

In order to extend the international reach and comparative implications of the core idea of ‘Super-diversity’ developed in the Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity, MPI MMG, a multi-project programme is being developed in South Africa. The notion of ‘super-diversity’ works well in the context of contemporary South Africa, where multiple, longstanding modes of ethnic and religious diversity are subjected to new and varied migration flows. As in other global conditions of super-diversity, new migration patterns encompass varieties in countries of origin, ethnicity, language, gendered channels of mobility, education, occupation, and location. A list of possible aspects or outcomes of super-diversity in South Africa includes: New patterns of inequality and prejudice manifested in the xenophobic bloodletting of May 2007; New patterns of segregation including, despite the collapse of the apartheid system, gated communities of the wealthy at one extreme and new slums for migrants at the other; New experiences of space and contact evident as formerly-white public spaces have become shared, and new patterns of exclusion have developed particularly in response to crime and the fear of crime; New forms of creolization and cosmopolitanism witnessed in burgeoning and hopeful development of cross-ethnic artistic expressions, political cooperation, religious worship and shared lifestyles; and New bridgeheads of migration indicating that, while most of South Africa’s migration remains regional (southern Africa), there is also significant migration from all over the continent and beyond.

Projects