Notes on Issue#9: Passages

Words by Tau Tavengwa | 04 Nov, 2019

People move. That is what we do. We move our bodies, move house, neighbourhood; we move across and through borders. We move because we want to and sometimes because we need to. To be with or away from family, to adventure and experience new things, on pilgrimage, to escape, learn, and sometimes to return home when it calls us. We move through space, we move up (becoming wealthier, more affluent), down (becoming materially more impoverished), we also move ideas and resources. We move to work, to search, to find, and sometimes to lose.

We move... It’s in our nature and has been since time immemorial.

Yet, as the world becomes better connected, moving has become a challenging and divisive experience at every scale you can imagine. We are building and strengthening physical borders to keep those we feel are “not worthy” from occupying the same spaces we do, while inviting the “desirable” – the educated, “clever”, connected, wealthy and talented – in.

Between these covers, we have tried to explore the question of what happens when we move to where we desire, or leave where we cannot be any more. In a “new” place, whether it’s for the short or long haul, how do we keep the ideas we hold dear? How do we, as “newcomers”, maintain the cultures that define us? How can we embrace our new situation in a manner that changes both us and our new settings?

Our interest is in where people move to, and why. Also, how ideas and capital circulate, traverse borders, and what the impacts are once “there”. This is the reason we have produced this issue. The ninth issue of Cityscapes and our new tagline—Urbanism Beyond Geography—marks a re-launch, after a hiatus (of sorts).

As the abundance of figures being released on the topic attests, we have been moving to cities – everywhere. The magnetism of places larger than where we are from has attracted legions – for centuries – and is now just part of the human story. Cities are not a new construct, and moving to them is really not that new a phenomenon. What’s different is the scale. In many economies, cities are the places where opportunities lie, where dreams can be fulfilled—or dashed, but still given a chance—if you're one of the lucky ones. We will always move to such places. Some inner instinct demands that we do.

What we have to figure out is how we live together once we get there. How the resources we have can be more equitably shared, and what we do when they are not. What do we do when the assets we have fuel distributional conflicts, understandably, with those who have been dealt a bad hand and have little to lose?

We have dug up stories that explore the nature(s) of movement, the impact it has on how we live and who we are, as well as the lives that are made – be they mobile or immobile – after the passage. It seems we move so that we are able to move some more. We move so we can “do better”, jump from one station in life to another. We become mobile hoping that it will expand our choices and send us ever onward.

Between these covers, we have tried to explore the question of what happens when we move to where we desire, or leave where we cannot be any more. In a “new” place, whether it’s for the short or long haul, how do we keep the ideas we hold dear? How do we, as “newcomers”, maintain the cultures that define us? How can we embrace our new situation in a manner that changes both us and our new settings?

Often, the “new” is old too. It seeks to hold on to its idea of self and wants to be loved and embraced on its own terms. It does not want to lose itself to the influence of newcomers – reinforcements of sorts – that, willingly or not, are its lifeblood

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CREDITS FOR THIS ISSUE

EDITOR & CURATOR: Tau Tavengwa

CONSULTING EDITOR : Edgar Pieterse

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Juliana Quintero, Medellín & Tatiana Thieme, London

COVER ART: Hazem Asif

ILLUSTRATION: Studio Riot; Patrick Latimer & Blain van Rooyen

COPY EDITORS: Janine Stephen & Paul Edmunds

ADMIN SUPPORT: Maryam Waglay @ ACC