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A ‘Chinese’ Street (Un)Scripted and (Re)Imagined – Material Shifts, City-Making and Altered Ways of Living in Suburban Johannesburg


Year published: 2023
Categories: Journal Article
URL Link: https://journals.codesria.org/index.php/ad/article/view/3034

Author / Authors:

  • Romain Dittgen,
  • Gerald Chungu ,
  • Mark Lewis


Derrick Avenue in Cyrildene, Johannesburg is a typical example of a Chinese-themed street, which stands out from the surrounding quiet and primarily residential neighborhood. Due to its visible markers and demographics, this activity node conjures up images of a spatially distinct and different place. However, such representations, which are commonly associated with Chinese spaces, not only limit our understanding of such spaces but also marginalize the existence of transversal urban processes and realities.

Instead of examining Derrick Avenue from the perspective of ethnicity and othering, this article takes a holistic approach to study this street. By exploring the complexities of this space and the coexisting tension between its specific characteristics and the familiar geographies, the article reveals how migrant spaces and host cities are entangled in terms of city-making processes and broader societal dynamics. When freed from predetermined analytical categories and conceptual frameworks, the relationship between these spaces becomes more than just relational ties, but an entanglement that is part of a broader societal dynamic.


  • Journal Article