Troubling Transformation: Storytelling and political subjectivities in Cape Town, South Africa

Joanna Wheeler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    31 Downloads (Pure)


    Everyday experiences of trauma and violence are difficult to access and articulate, and yet have significant weight in shaping relationships of power, access, and rights. This article responds this epistemological challenge by exploring how storytelling can be used to work into the deep gaps and brutal silences that characterise life on the margins in Cape Town. This article traces an engaged story-based form of research with people from informal settlements and townships to examine how political subjectivities are shaped and enacted through storytelling about everyday life. In terms of political subjectivity, it is possible to consider two distinct but interrelated processes within storytelling: the constitution of the person as a political subject through the interpolation of their personal experiences into public, recognisable meanings. Second, the constitution of the possibility of gaining a position which can be recognised and the possibility to act on this position. This article explores in greater depth the ways in which this happens. While this approach has many challenges and tensions, it also opens new possibilities for articulating and understanding political subjectivities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)329-344
    JournalCritical African Studies
    Issue number3
    Early online date29 May 2019
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Journal Volume backdated to 2018. Article first published online on 29th May 2019.


    • storytelling
    • political subjectivities
    • violence
    • South Africa
    • intersectionality
    • transformation


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