Narratives Of Mobility

Navigating from Gautrain Park Station to Wits Art Museum via Jorissen Street.

Patriarchy, misogyny and their legacy have resulted in a pervasive culture that makes womxn feel unsafe in central Johannesburg. Womxn have had to find strategies of survival to allow them to navigate. These strategies entail personal mappings of routes and lines that allow womxn to move through the city. I will examine my journey of walking from the Gautrain Park Station to the Wits Art Museum, via Jorissen Street, using my experiences as a method to generate insight and knowledge. My research is underpinned by the idea of “theorising from the epicentres of our own agency”. I think through how womxn can use their personal, embodied experiences as a valid starting point from which knowledge can be produced. The title of this project contains two words that can function within a particular framework/reading. The first is “narrative” and the second is ‘navigate’. ‘Narrative’ is a retelling of an account of specific events that has taken place. Narrative becomes a method to capture experiences where each step functions as a proxy for memory. By presenting this project as a narrative, I make personal observations based on my own perceptions. I am aware that my experiences will be influenced by race and class as well as how my body is read by others. The word “navigate” draws attention to the inherent difficulty experienced in attempting to move from one place to the next as a Black womxn … and doing so safely. I am concerned with the idea of safety, or rather, perceptions of safety. For me, safety means the ability to complete the journey without incident. An incident can either be a verbal provocation (including but not limited to catcalling) and in extreme cases, may include a physical provocation such as mugging, (wo)manhandling and/or rape. Page development: Glen Mudau. Facilitated by Karin Tan and Brigitta Stone-Johnson


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