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Urban Humanities: Storytelling as method: migration, gender and inclusion in Durban

18 October, 2018 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm SAST

Storytelling as a form of urban scholarship has the potential for empathetic ways of producing knowledge, understanding, seeing and being in the city. This seminar explores how storytelling in a multitude of forms can be a productive method for data collection, public dissemination and advocacy for social justice. It discusses this based on a year and half long partnership project between scholars and civil society organisations on Migration, Gender and Inclusion in the city of Durban. In this project women’s stories of arriving in the city and making it something like home were positioned at the centre of project activities. Thirty oral histories of migrant women, both South African women living in a Durban hostel and women arriving from the DRC, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Uganda formed the primary data set. These narratives were then developed into a verbatim theatre performance titled The Last Country that was performed in many different settings around the city. The seminar outlines how the play was both a form of storytelling in itself, making accessible the oral history data to a broader public audience, and a form of data collection through discussion sessions with audience members and city officials. This seminar looks at the learnings and challenges we experienced through being a part of a project built around the idea of sharing stories in the city.


Dr Kira Erwin is a sociologist and senior researcher at the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology. Kira’s research and publications focus largely around race, racialisation, racism and anti-racism work in South Africa. She is interested in how place identities related to space and the built environment impact on ideas of social difference. Kira makes use of creative participatory methods in her research and engagement projects, and collaborates with colleagues in the creative arts to design forms of storytelling that extend research findings beyond the walls of academia.

WHEN: 18 October 2018
TIME: 15:00 – 16:30
VENUE: Studio 3, Environmental and Geographical Science Building, Upper Campus, UCT


18 October, 2018
8:00 am - 5:00 pm SAST
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Studio 3
Environmental and Geographical Sciences Building, Upper Campus, UCT
Cape Town, South Africa
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