‘It is Not a Shelter, it is a Church!’ Religious Organisations, the Public Sphere and Xenophobia in South Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This chapter explores a specific religious site, the Central Methodist Mission (CMM) in central Johannesburg. The church began to accommodate refugees, mostly from Zimbabwe, since 2004/2005, and the number of people staying at the church increased during and after the outbreaks of xenophobic violence that spread across South Africa in 2008. Passing from being simply a religious site, this institution became a sort of improvised ‘refugee camp’ hosting around 3,000 migrants and, in doing so, has become the site of much contestation and controversy at a local and national level. When Zimbabwean migrants turned to the church, this materially affected the running and organisation of the existing religious community as well as the religious site. This chapter investigates the way this overcrowded place became the only ‘safe’ alternative in a very adverse society, and it also illustrates that in light of this dynamic process following Apartheid, religion and religious institutions are re-emerging as public actors in South Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligion and Place
Subtitle of host publicationLandscape, Politics and Piety
EditorsPeter Hopkins, Lily Kong, Elizabeth Olson
PublisherNew York: Springer Press
Pages131-147
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-007-4685-5
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-4684-8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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