Many migrants in South Africa have set up informal spaza shops in townships across the country, supplying surrounding residents with essentials. These businesses have encountered widespread violent crime, animosity, and repeated efforts to regulate and curtail their economic activities.
Engaging first-hand with Somali traders in Cape Town, Vanya Gastrow investigates the predicament of these modern-day pariahs – outcasts who belong neither to the elite nor the common people and who are frequently the focus of xenophobic anger.
In doing so, she sheds light on the nature and workings of xenophobia in South Africa today and how democratic and constitutional frameworks erode in contexts of heightened nationalism, populism and economic inequality.
About the author:
Over the past decade, Vanya Gastrow has studied and written about immigrant-run shops and small businesses in South Africa. Her work has covered shopkeepers’ experiences of crime and xenophobia in the country, their ability to access formal and informal justice systems, the regulation of their businesses, and their role in local economies. Gastrow holds a PhD in Migration Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a Research Associate at the Centre for Law and Society at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Citizen and Pariah: Somali Traders and rhe Regulation of Difference in South Africa is published by Wits University Press