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This issue of Public Culture attempts to overturn perceptions that frame Africa as an object apart from the rest of the world. By placing the city of Johannesburg-the preeminent metropolis of the African continent and a city facing a complicated legacy of racial strife and wealth accumulation-at the heart of new critical urban theory, Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis broadens discussions of modernity, cosmopolitanism, and urban renewal to include Africa. The issue brings Johannesburg into direct dialogue with other world cities, creating a space for the interrogation and investigation of the metropolis in a properly global sense. Contributors to this issue-a mix of scholars, urban planners, and artists, many of whom hail from South Africa-reveal Johannesburg to be a polycentric and international city that has developed its own cosmopolitan culture. In a detailed study of three streets in the modern precinct of Melrose Arch, one essay shows how the thoroughly commodified and marketed Johannesburg cityscape has shaped the cultural sensitivities, aesthetics, and urban subjectivities of its inhabitants, at times even overriding the historical memory of apartheid. Another essay, focusing on the emergence of a new urban culture, examines how the city itself becomes a crucial site for the remixing and reassembling of racial identities. By tracking the movement of people with AIDS to various locations in the city to seek relief and treatment, another essay reveals an urban geography very different from what is seen from the highways. Finally, through interviews and commentaries, journalists, artists, and architects of Johannesburg offer reflections on the geography and shifting culture of the city and its townships, on the complicated relationship between Johannesburg and other African cities, and on the search for an architectural style that adequately expresses the complexity of this cosmopolitan city. Contributors. Lindsay Bremner, Nsizwa Dlamini, Mark Gevisser, Grace Khunou, Frederic Le Marcis, John Matshikiza, Achille Mbembe, Sarah Nuttall, Rodney Place, AbdouMaliq Simone, Michael Watts
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii Introduction: Afropolis / Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall 1 1. Aesthetics of Superfluity / Achille Mbembe 37 2. People as Infrastructure / Abdoumaliq Simone 68 3. Stylizing the Self / Sarah Nuttall 91 4. Gandhi, Mandela, and the African Modern / Jonathan Hyslop 119 5. Art Johannesburg and Its Objects / David Bunn 137 6. The Suffering Body of the City / Frederic Le Marcis 170 7. Literary City / Sarah Nuttall 195 Voice Lines Instant City / John Matshikiza 221 Soweto Now / Achille Mbembe, Nsizwa Dlamini, and Grace Khunou 239 The Arrivants / Tom Odhiambo and Robert Muponde 248 Johannesburg, Metropolis of Mozambique / Stefan Helgesson 259 Sounds in the City / Xavier Livermon 271 Nocturnal Johannesburg / Julia Hornberger 285 Megamalls, Generic City / Fred De Vries 297 Yeoville Confidential / Achal Prabhala 307 From the Ruins / Mark Gevisser 317 Reframing Township Space / Lindsay Bremner 337 Afterword: The Risk of Johannesburg / Arjun Appadurai and Carol A. Breckenridge 349 Bibliography 355 Contributors 375 Index

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Scholarly and creative essays on Johannesburg that focus on the city's modern and cosmopolitan status

About the Author

Sarah Nuttall is Associate Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She is the author of Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Post-Apartheid (forthcoming) and an editor of several books, including Beautiful/Ugly: African and Diaspora Aesthetics, also published by Duke University Press. Achille Mbembe is Research Professor in History and Politics at WISER. He is the author of On the Postcolony and La naissance du maquis dans le Sud-Cameroun and a co-editor of Le politique par le bas en Afrique noire.


"Taken together, the essays in Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis offer radically new ways of thinking about this complex city, as well as many hints about emerging or re-emerging cities elsewhere. The essays challenge dominant models of urbanism and demonstrate with force and subtlety how African cities in general and Johannesburg in particular outpace urban theory. Each essay 'de-scribes' the city now in order to envision the city to come. In this volume, we hear--over the droning cliches that still circulate about the African city's ruin and decadence--another note, another cadence."--Ackbar Abbas, author of Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance "An extraordinary exploration of what is so often left out of accounts about cities: what is beneath and what is at the edge. It goes where much of the urban scholarship leaves off or, rather, trails off. The authors' project to write Johannesburg into today's history will serve as a compass to enable researchers and writers to engage other cities that have been left out of history or given a narrow colonial presence."--Saskia Sassen, author of Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages

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