Blue Johannesburg

  • Pamila GuptaEmail author


This chapter entwines affect, materiality, and the diasporic imaginings of an older Portuguese immigrant community as a way to reorient our way of seeing contemporary Johannesburg. Looking at certain Portuguese colonial signifiers in the making of its post-apartheid present, the chapter experiments with an alternative format for writing (and visualizing) the city from the perspective of driving (as opposed to walking, as De Certeau would have it) and in relation to the literary, ornamental, and sensory as forms of infrastructure and affect. Johannesburg is a city comprised of many Portuguese suburbs that were developed through three waves of migration from Madeira, Portugal, and the African ex-colonies (Angola and Mozambique). I focus on three traces: Portuguese monumentalism; Portuguese-styled azulejo tile work; and finally, the colour blue that fills these spaces, and which as entangled objects act as architectures of memory for many Portuguese living in Southern Africa. These materialities allow us to view Johannesburg as very much an enduring Portuguese city, particularly for its thriving diasporic community, which is estimated to be between 350,000 and 500,000 persons.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wits UniversityJohannesburgSouth Africa

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