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On 16 August, senior researcher Federica Duca gave a talk at Urban Anxieties in the Global South, a project by Wits Media Studies and WiSER. Federica’s talk titled, “Macabre and belonging: Reflections Johannesburg” was among a day-long programme of exciting talks exploring spatial anxieties in urban South Africa.

Sarah Nutall of WiSER, introduces the project:

This workshop is premised upon a very basic reality: to feel anxiety about the global south is very different to feeling anxiety in the global south. The dominant discourse about urban life in the south essentially views its megacities as large problems to quantify and to solve. We propose an alternative approach: a focus on global south urban subjectivities and an attempt to map experiences of contemporary urban anxiety in the global south.

We live in an age of free-floating anxiety. Popular media, culture and politics are awash with concern about the future of economies, of democracy, of modernity, of the planet. The ‘global south’ features strongly in these anxieties. Across the world, media and political discourses repeat the notion that global-south cities are deeply enmeshed in continuing crises around movement, terrorism and the environment. In many of these narratives the global south features as the bogeyman in a northern imaginary, with anxieties about politics, migration and trade from the south leading to rightwing backlash in the north. But what about the south’s own imaginary? What keeps us up at night in the megacities of the global south?