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Migrants, Thinkers, Storytellers: Negotiating Meaning and Making Life in Bloemfontein, South Africa

Jonatan Kurzwelly and Luis Escobedo, editors
Migrants, Thinkers, Storytellers: Negotiating Meaning and Making Life in Bloemfontein, South Africa
ISBN: 978-0-7969-2598-5
ISBN: 978-0-7969-2615-9
2021/246 pages
Distributed for HSRC Press
"A significant contribution to the study of race, migration, and belonging in South Africa with substantive and methodological insights that should resonate far beyond the country's borders."—Loren B. Landau, University of Oxford and the University of Witwatersrand


Against the backdrop of Bloemfontein in the heartland of South Africa—but with lessons that translate to immigrant communities on every continent and at every socioeconomic level—the authors of Migrants, Thinkers, Storytellers argue that migrants are challenged by a violent categorization that is often nihilistic, insistently racial, and continuously significant to the organization of society. The authors also examine how both relative privilege and storytelling serve as instruments with which migrants negotiate meaning in their lives.

This collaborative work, involving immigrants as well as scholars and based on narrative life-story research, contributes important theoretical insights into the nature of social identification during the migration experience.


Jonatan Kurzwelly is postdoctoral researcher in the Institute of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Göttingen, as well as research fellow at the University of the Free State. Luis Escobedo is postdoctoral research fellow at the University of the Free State.


  • Foreword—Francis B. Nyamnjoh.
  • Violent Categorization, Relative Privilege, and Migrant Experiences in a Post-Apartheid City—the Editors.
  • Transcending Social Categories: Reflections on Research Concerning Migrant Lives, Lived Experiences, and Life Stories—L. Escobedo et al.
  • From the Mainland and from the Colony: Essay on the Life Narrative of a Portuguese Migrant in Bloemfontein—A.R. Amaral.
  • Becoming White: The Story of Being Assimilated into the White Habitus of Bloemfontein—L. Dick.
  • Extremism, Essentialism, and Identity: The Life Story of Muhammad Elvis Ngum—J. Kurzwelly et al.
  • The Shifting Social Relations and National Identity Practices of a Peruvian Migrant in South Africa's Heartland—L. Escobedo et al.
  • "Do You Miss Kimchi?": A Collaborative Arts-Based Narrative of Education and Migration—M. Müller et al.
  • Written Writing: An Account of the Emergence of An(other) Academic Author—P. Del Monte.
  • Transitioning Capitals in International Student Mobility—F. Mkwananzi.
  • Migration Change Processes of a Migrant Couple: A Social Morphogenetic Approach—A.V. Agbedahin.
  • The Migrant as Architect of His Own Comfort—K. Agbedahin and B.T. Akalu.