Cosmopolitan Gazes, Envisioning the Township: Local Agents and Contemporary Tourism Encounters in Langa, Cape Town

Florence Siegenthaler
Master Thesis, 2019

This thesis, in Cape Town’s oldest township Langa, follows Mbembe and Nuttall’s call for re-imagining the “imbrications of city and township”. The author works with a set of local agents in Langa’s tourist industry – an Airbnb host, e tour operator or a social media manager – in order to narrate the contemporary modes with which they engage with and envision their home, their neighborhood, and their city. The scope, thereby, is to diversify the notion of the ‘tourist gaze’ prevalent in the scholarly discourse on tourism. The stories curated in this work speak of multiple, complicated, and cosmopolitan modes of looking at each other and at the urban environment in tourism-township encounters. They carve out a space to acknowledge local agents as key figures of cosmopolitanism and Langa’s growing tourist spaces as their rich production sites for urban imaginaries.

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