Claiming the City in South African Literature  book cover
1st Edition

Claiming the City in South African Literature

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after August 19, 2021
ISBN 9780367763930
August 19, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge India
160 Pages

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Book Description

This book demonstrates the insights that literature brings to transdisciplinary urban studies, and particularly in the study of cities of the south. It surveys more than a century of South African writing – from the origins of the industrial city to the first two decades of democracy – with the aim of tracing the forms through which the city has been constituted and refigured in literature. It focuses on the extractive and enclaved city that was produced from the inaugural claim staked by mining capital in the late nineteenth century and tracks the ways in which the literature issues various counter claims in order to reimagine the city as a place of assembly and attachment. The study argues for a reading of the South African city as both distinctive and closely tied to the global economy into which it has been designed to funnel gold, and looks to the literary city to advance  a contrary emphasis on community, conviviality, and care.


An accessible and informative introduction to the major literary depictions of and responses to the South African city at significant historical junctures, this book will be of great interest to scholars and students of both literature and South Africa, as well those working in urban studies and Global South studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. All that glitters  3. Light city, dark city  4. Resistant cities  5. Reassembling the city

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Meg Samuelson is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide, Australia, and Associate Professor Extraordinaire at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She has published widely in South African literary and cultural studies, including the monograph Remembering the Nation, Dismembering Women? Stories of the South African Transition (2007) and the co-edited anthology Nobody Ever Said AIDS (2004), as well as within Indian Ocean and Global South studies and, more recently, on literature of the southern hemisphere and the ‘oceanic south’.