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Railing Against Apartheid: Staffrider, Township Trains, and Racialised Mobility in South Africa

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Mobilities, Literature, Culture

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Abstract

South Africa has a complex history of racialized mobility politics. This chapter explores the commuter railways that were key in materialising South Africa’s racially segregated cities under apartheid. The everyday commuting mobilities on the township trains were a key site of regulation and resistance to the racial politics of the nation. Focusing on a range of short stories published in Staffrider, including Mango Tshabangu (‘Thoughts in a Train’), Miriam Tlali (‘Fud-u-u-a’), Michael Siluma (‘Naledi Train’), and Brian Setuke (‘Dumani’), this chapter explores how the symbol of the township train, the railway station, the train compartment, and the mobile figures of the commuter and the staffrider were mobilized in the South African cultural imagination as a form of resistance to the racialized mobility politics of the nation.

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Gibson, S. (2019). Railing Against Apartheid: Staffrider, Township Trains, and Racialised Mobility in South Africa. In: Aguiar, M., Mathieson, C., Pearce, L. (eds) Mobilities, Literature, Culture. Studies in Mobilities, Literature, and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-27072-8_2

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