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The ghetto in the cities and films of Johannesburg and Cape Town

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The ghetto as a metaphor is strongly present in the hood film and offers both utopian and dystopian representations of the city for African Americans. The ghetto or hood film has influenced the gangster genre in South Africa, where racial and socioeconomic segregation is a legacy of colonial and apartheid planning in cities. This article focuses on the geography of locations and aspects of mobility in the construction and depiction of the ghetto in two films of Johannesburg and Cape Town: Jerusalema by Ziman (2008) and Four Corners by Gabriel (2013). Although the ghetto is not easily applied to South African cities, defining elements are present in a variety of urban spaces including townships, the inner city and informal settlements. The ghetto, as Lefebvre’s ‘representational’ space, offers insights into the cultural, social and physical spaces of South African cities.
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Keywords: Cape Town; Johannesburg; film; gangster; ghetto; hood

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Gauteng City-Region Observatory

Publication date: 01 April 2018

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  • The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film.
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