City forms and writing the ‘now’ in South Africa

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Sarah Nuttall


Journal of Southern African Studies, Volume 30, p.731–748 (2004)



This article considers ways of theorising the now, or the contemporary, in South Africa. It seeks a method of reading that offers unexpected and defamiliarising routes through the cultural archive. The article discusses notions of race, class and space both in a general and historical sense and, in the second part, as they relate to new literatures of the city now emerging in South Africa. By focusing on urban ‘philosophies’ of the street it examines city life and city forms in fictional work on Johannesburg in particular. The article attempts to make an overall argument about how we might read the contemporary South African space.

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