Performative ethnography: difference and conviviality of everyday multiculturalism in Bellville (Cape Town)
Alhourani, Ala Rabiha
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The paper explores the benefits of performative ethnography as a methodological intervention. The intervention discussed in this paper utilizes the persuasive power of aesthetics and performance to attain participation amongst a broad spectrum of research interlocutors and to challenge my own power and positionality in the fieldwork, whilst rendering me invisible as a participant observer. The performative ethnography discussed in this paper took place in the central business district (CBD) of Bellville, in the Cape Town area in South Africa, and consists of two performances, curated by the author, that took place at the same time. One is a painting performance through which Somali participants were invited to express their emotional experiences of living in Cape Town, and their memories, nostalgia and attachment to their land of origin. The painting performance revealed Somali diversity, multiple belongings and a politics of making cultural difference. The second performance was staged to overlap, in ways unanticipated by the participants, and consisted of a South African minstrel troupe walking through Bellville CBD, attaining a moment of conviviality through the unmaking of cultural difference. Beneath this methodological intervention is an exploration of the politics of difference and the conviviality of Bellville CBD’s everyday multiculturalism.