SeaM pilot round one: Keeping marginal voices at the centre

ITEM Approx Price (£)
PI Flight 825
Cartoonist 800
Chair Hire 30
Catering 100
Local facilitators (2 x 3 days approx) 180
Local translator 40
Cartoon poster and postcard printing 160
Report printing 250
Miscellaneous stationary/materials/postage 50
Petrol costs 30
Phone costs 35
TOTAL 2500

Lead SeaM Team Members:

 Tamlyn Monson (Wits)

Elsa (Wits)

Sam Spiegel (Edinburgh)

Rationale for Project (500 words max)

How does your proposed pilot further the aims of the SeaM project?

Since the May 2008 xenophobic attacks, a growing body of literature has framed the study of anti-outsider mobilization in South Africa as a form of contention between citizens and foreigners, or between sons of the soil and outsiders. This focus on de jure citizenship and autochthony as identities underpinning conflict has tended to take for granted the citizenship of attackers and flatten the claims for space being made by locals and foreigners. Tamlyn Monson’s ethnographic study of two parts of a violence affected informal settlement opened the black box of ‘citizenship’ in the informal residential areas strongly associated with violence to articulate the voice of perpetrator communities, whose historical and spatial marginality plays a role in shaping contention with the claims of more recently arrived marginal groups. The study is highly relevant to SeaM’s interest in the negotiation of security on the margins in urban South Africa, and the interaction of multiple marginalities in urban areas, examining as it does the uneasy relationship between the historical struggle of marginal urban citizens for security and justice, and the new claims on marginal spaces made by newcomers. This valuable but potentially controversial study is worthy of wider dissemination, but given its controversial content, the production of this knowledge calls for greater participation of the subject community both in mediating the knowledge produced through an academic study, and in determining what, and how, findings should be disseminated. The proposed study plans to use innovative visual methods to apply a coproduction filter to a scholar’s narrative of the history of the settlements and key themes in the insecurity of residents, creating space for the production of counter-narratives, opening narrative and counter-narrative to the public gaze, and inviting members of the public to shape the narrative and provide direction on how best to share related knowledge publicly in the interests of a more equal citizenship and improved security on these margins of both the city and the state’s power.

How will it contribute to knowledge of academic and practice communities?

In terms of the academic community, the study is an opportunity to unpack ethical issues around knowledge production. By subjecting a set of findings to the gaze and voice of the community that formed a PhD study’s research object, the project exposes as well as questions the power of the scholar in producing and disseminating knowledge. The process draws the scholar into an uneasy vulnerability, unsettling her power in interpreting and presenting knowledge, while enabling the ‘object’ of study room to reshape the knowledge produced through scholarship. In terms of communities of practice, the study contributes to the knowledge resources of the partially institutionalised, but often amorphous and emergent, informal community of practice embodied by a squatter settlement. The process will enable the co-production of narratives and visual materials to publicize the injustices faced by citizens in South African squatter camps, and the selection of images and narratives to be made visible to the broader public. The researcher will also provide residents with a resource for the collation of this material for potential publication in appropriate news or other public outlets.

Proposed Research Methods (200 words max):

The project will have several components, all aimed at subjecting a set of findings to the gaze and voice of the community that formed a PhD study’s research object.

  1. A cartoonist will be commissioned to produce cartoons representing key aspects of the researcher’s narrative, making them visually accessible to the less
  1. The cartoons will be used in a series of small group engagements to stimulate discussion, and create space for the expression of alternative concepts and narratives. This will culminate in a ranking activity where participants order the cartoons by priority in terms of their ability to capture the experience of security at the margins in Mshongo. Views on how the top ranked cartoon/s could best be shared with the public will be
  1. The cartoonist will be commissioned to adapt existing cartoons or produce one or more additional cartoons to incorporate/express any distinct new voices and viewpoints emerging from these
  1. One or more small-scale open readings of a simplified report of the original findings will be conducted to allow residents to provide direct feedback to the researcher’s narrative, and offer suggestions for how the knowledge could be best used to constitute a resource for residents as members of an informal community of

 

Proposed Outreach Event (200 words max):

  • A brief on the engagement will be written and submitted to a) the Tshwane Sun
  • An opinion piece will be written and submitted to a) The Pretoria News, and b) oneor more national newspapers, using one or more cartoons highlighted in the review and knowledge production process, and highlighting issues that were given priority by participants in the engagement

Other Outputs

Reflections on the project’s contribution to knowledge will appear in additional outputs required of SeaM projects:

  • A 3,000 to 5,000 word report (which could potentially form the basis of a co- authored article at a later stage).
  • One blog post for SeaM

Let us know what you think about this SeaM TeaM initiative...

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