Call for Papers: Routes and Rites to the City: Temporal and Spatial Diversity in Johannesburg’s Migrant Religions and Rituals

Call for Contributions

The proposed anthropological project — to be completed between March 2013 and June 2014 — aims to explore both the temporal and spatial diversity of migrant religious,divination and death rituals in inner-city and Southern Johannesburg. It will seek to explore how this diversity develops as a response to both the spiritual and material insecurities of experiences of migration. The interest in migration conceived broadly — not a bureaucratic category – but aims to explore experiences of mobility, dislocation and distance from familial and ancestral ‘homes’. Hence, it encompasses both South African nationals and non-nationals.

We aim here to outline the temporal and spatial diversity of these rituals of different urban spaces which churches occupy (the veld, factories, reclaimed churches and synagogues …) and both the economic and symbolic reasons for this diversity. In this analysis we will also conduct historical research into the uses of these urban spaces and the overlay of different temporal and spatial patterns of migration. We wish to delve into processes of sacralization and desacralization of the urban landscape as it results from disputed access to the urban space and is associated with mobility and migration historically and in its present formations.

The book will cover, among other religions and rituals: African Initiated Churches, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Catholic and Methodist churches – but aims to extend beyond a focus on Christianity. In particular we are looking for contributions on ‘traditional’ healing’ and indigenous African religions, Chinese religions, and Islam. The project will focus around Zone F and Rosettinville, though other areas will be considered.

The outputs of the project will be a book to be edited by Dr Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon ( and Dr Lorena Nunez ( ), a multi-media platform, a public symposium/workshop and an exhibition.

Participants would be expected to attend a bi-monthly discussion and reading group, to produce materials for online use and to produce a draft chapter by November 2012 and final chapter for presentation in a workshop/exhibition in February 2014, after which the final manuscript will be edited.

Technological support and limited research funding is available which will be allocated on a needs assessment. Submissions based on existing research will also be considered.

Please submit proposals with abstract, a CV and a sample of writing (preferably an existing publication) and proposed research costs (please note only research costs and not salaries or time will be paid for) by Friday March 8. Please send proposals via email to Peter Kankonde:,  cc’d to Dr Wilhelm-Solomon and Dr Nunez.