Monday, May 7, 2007

Biniam Misgun

Binium Misgun
Biniam Misgun teaches Sociology at UKZN. His area of interest is Urban Sociology and Sociology of Development. He has recently completed a Masters thesis on migrants/refugees from Africa, which focuses on their participation in the informal economy and their identity constructions.

In his chapter, Foreign Migrants in the Inner City of Durban, Binium explores migrant workers from abroad and their experiences of Durban, focusing on their participation as informal street traders and in other businesses. He draws on his recently completed Masters dissertation, one of the few ethnographic studies of foreign migrant workers participating in the country's informal economy. He provides rich accounts of their lives, identities, relations with significant others, local street traders and the police. He argues that migrant workers experience xenophobia and other problems. In response, they develop strong senses of identity and community with migrant workers from the same countries.

In another chapter, The white and black sands of the Durban Beachfront, Binium and Wesley Oakes argue that the beach is not just a space for people to unwind and be their ‘natural’ selves, but a place where identity work proceeds, with ‘race’ very much to the fore. They investigate the informal post-apartheid racialisation of sand, showing how South Beach—the beach with the best facilities—became black, like the City centre. And just as whites moved away to the suburbs, they also moved from South Beach to the North. They examine how whites & blacks who go to North Beach construct it as safe, clean and white in relation to dirty, dangerous and black South Beach. They argue that these racial constructs intersect with class.

Misgun, Biniam. 'Foreign Migrants in the Inner City of Durban', in Rob Pattman and Sultan Khan (Eds.), Undressing Durban (Durban: Madiba Press, 2007), pp. 92-100.

Misgun, Biniam, and Oakes, Wesley. 'The white and black sands of the Durban Beachfront', in Rob Pattman and Sultan Khan (Eds.), Undressing Durban (Durban: Madiba Press, 2007), pp. 118-125.