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Seminar: Mzulungile Gaqa — Wednesday 21 August 2019

Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series 2019

Life beyond protests: 

What it means to be an informal settlement resident in Kanana/Gugulethu, Cape Town

Mzulungile Gaqa

University of the Western Cape 

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Anthropology lab, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, 13h00-14h20


This study explores the lives of the residents of Kanana, an informal settlement in the Gugulethu township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. It pays particular attention to people’s everyday lives and aims to dispel the negative and simplistic representations that emerge when informal settlement residents collectively take part in protests. Although there are extensive reasons for protest, the media and the South African government prortray demonstrations solely as demands for “service delivery”, and criminally-induced protests. The focus of this work is instead to explore life beyond protest. The research illustrates that one needs to be immersed in the lives of shack dwellers to fully understand them as identifiable human beings, carrying meaningful lives.


Mzulungile has been doing research on protests in Gugulethu, Cape Town, for the past few years.  He recently completed his MA thesis which has received significant media attention.