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Precarity, permits, and prayers: “working practices” of Congolese asylum-seeking women in Cape Town

Nyamnjoh, Henrietta, Hall, Suzanne ORCID: 0000-0002-0660-648X and Cirolia, Liza Rose (2022) Precarity, permits, and prayers: “working practices” of Congolese asylum-seeking women in Cape Town. Africa Spectrum, 57 (1). 30 - 49. ISSN 0002-0397

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Identification Number: 10.1177/00020397211050077


This paper provides an ethnographic reading of how Congolese women, in particular aslyum seekers with temporary permits, navigate Cape Town's informal urban economy. We argue that the intersections of temporary permit status and gender, as well as the particularities of diaspora flows and settlements, compound the precarity of everyday life. We engage with how precarity shapes and is shaped by what we define as “working practices.” These practices include the everyday livelihood tactics sustained on shoestring budgets and transnational networks. We also show how, in moments of compounded crises – including the COVID-19 pandemic – marginal gains and transnational networks are rendered more fragile. In these traumatic moments, working practices extend to include the practices of hope and reliance on prayer as social ways of contending with exacerbated precarity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2021 16:45
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 21:27

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