Healing and Change in the City of Gold

Case Studies of Coping and Support in Johannesburg

  • Ingrid Palmary
  • Brandon Hamber
  • Lorena Núñez

Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS, volume 24)

About this book


This volume offers radically new ways of thinking about precarious life in the city of Johannesburg. Using case studies as varied as Pentecostal and Zionist churches, brothels, shelters, political movements for change in Zimbabwe, ex-soldiers groups, counseling services and art projects, this volume grapples with the way its predominantly migrant residents navigate the opportunities, challenges, moral orders and relationships in this iconic and complex city.

Taking seriously how context shapes meaning the authors use participatory and ethnographic techniques to understand people’s everyday responses to the violence, insecurity and possibilities for change that they face in contemporary Johannesburg.  Read together, the case studies give us new insights into what it means to seek support, to cope and to heal, going beyond what mental health professionals traditionally consider support mechanisms or interventions for those in distress. They develop a notion of healing that sees it as a process and an outcome that is rooted in the world-view of those who live in the city.

Throughout the chapters in this book is a sense of everyday insecurity alongside an equally strong sense of optimism, care and a striving for change. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that this book deals very centrally with themes of the struggle for progress, mobility (geographic, material and spiritual), and the sense of possibility and change associated with the City of Gold. Ultimately, the volume demonstrates that coping and healing are both a collective and individual achievement, as well as a economic, psychological, spiritual and material phenomenon shaped by context.


Domestive Violence in South Africa Sex work in South Africa Zimbabwe refugees in South Africa child refugees in South Africa coping and healing from everyday violence gender equality in Johannesburg people's response to everyday violence post-apartheid South Africa psychological responses to stress transition to democracy in South Africa

Editors and affiliations

  • Ingrid Palmary
    • 1
  • Brandon Hamber
    • 2
  • Lorena Núñez
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Witwatersrand African Centre for Migration and SocietyJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE)University of UlsterNorthern IrelandUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.SociologyUniversity of WitswatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-08767-2
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-08768-9
  • Series Print ISSN 2197-5779
  • Series Online ISSN 2197-5787
  • Buy this book on publisher's site