SSIIM Paper Series Vol.16
Translocal Urbanism in Southern Africa: Practices, Stories and Places of Cross-Border Traders between Johannesburg and Maputo
di Paola Piscitelli
At the intersection of critical urban theory (Lefebvre 1947, 1991 and 1992) and critical mobility studies (Södeström et al. 2013), this paper investigates the relationship between mobility, informality and urban space in the ‘cities off the map’ (Robinson 2002).
Proposing and adopting the theoretical framework of ‘translocal urbanism’, it addresses the ‘mobile constitution of the urban space’ by investigating the link between trans-local geographies and socio- spatial practices of mukheristas, Mozambican informal cross-border traders.
Mukheristas deploy movement as a livelihood strategy as well as a transactional way to carve out space in the everyday life of the city (Lefebvre 1992). Navigating multidimensional constraints, they are able to connect heterogeneous spaces and networks across transnational distances.
The paper seeks to unveil the manifold configurations of agency underlying this process by following the practices, stories and places of informal cross-border traders between Johannesburg and Maputo.
Using a view from below and a relational approach to urbanism (Södeström 2011), it aims at unfolding the mobility potential and the related issues, often an underestimated process pertaining to the construction of the “urban”.