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Melancholy mapping: a ‘dispatcher’s eye’ and the locations of loss in Johannesburg

Charlton, Ed ORCID: 0000-0001-7563-9472 (2017) Melancholy mapping: a ‘dispatcher’s eye’ and the locations of loss in Johannesburg. Thesis Eleven, 141 (1). pp. 14-30. ISSN 0725-5136

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0725513617720240


Johannesburg has been described variously as an elusive, genre-less, blank, even self-cannibalizing city. Without refusing such rhetorical play, this article seeks to secure a mode of urban analysis that attends to the city’s material losses as well as its conceptual elisions. In so doing, it engages the critical potential, in particular, of melancholy, establishing through this concept not just an affective condition or a psycho-spatial categorization, but a way of mapping the city. Through analysis of Mark Gevisser’s Lost and Found in Johannesburg (2014), this article follows his self-styled ‘dispatcher’s eye’ in its efforts to navigate those spaces in the city otherwise erased from the city’s self-image. In particular, it finds important precedence in Ranjana Khanna’s notion of a ‘postcolonial melancholia’, as well as interventions by Roland Barthes and Walter Benjamin, as it elaborates upon the imaginative as well as political claims made available by such a melancholy mapping of Johannesburg.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author
Divisions: LSE Cities
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 13:56
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2024 05:03

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