Immigration and subterranean sovereignty in South African cities

Loren B. Landau, Tamlyn Monson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Border control—entry, exit, and movement within a territory—is inextricably tied to globally dominant definitions of spatial control and sovereignty. Under the Manichean rubric that informs much work on contemporary governance, where states are unable to systematically regulate movement into and within space, such spaces appear as only partially governed. However, such designations are premised on a state-centric perspective of governance that ignores other critical forms of regulation and control that emerge when state power is inconsistent or when states act in “irregular” ways. Through its “worm’s-eye” view, this chapter argues that the various actors involved in regulating human mobility—states, citizens, and migrants themselves—act as catalysts for transforming the practice of sovereignty. Where public commitments to law are questionable and enforcement institutions weak, socially rooted regimes of control have emerged to regulate what might outwardly appear as South Africa’s ungoverned spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUngoverned spaces
Subtitle of host publicationAlternatives to state authority in an era of softened sovereignty
EditorsAnne L. Clunan, Harold A. Trinkunas
PublisherStanford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780804774499
ISBN (Print)9780804770125, 9780804770132
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Immigration controls
  • Sovereignty
  • governance
  • Informal justice


  • Governance, Leadership and Trust
  • Migration, Displacement and Belonging


Dive into the research topics of 'Immigration and subterranean sovereignty in South African cities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this