Remaking Religion, Rethinking Space: How South Asian and Somali Migrants Are Transforming Ethnically Bound Notions of Hinduism and Islam in Mayfair and Fordsburg

  • Zaheera Jinnah
  • Pragna Rugunanan
Part of the Global Diversities book series (GLODIV)


Fordsburg and Mayfair are dense, socially and economically dynamic area in Johannesburg. Initially, developed as a mining camp in 1888, they later became hubs of trade and multiculturalism before being subjected to strict racially entrenched regulation during apartheid. In the post-1994 era, new waves of migrants from South Asia and North and East Africa have settled in Fordsburg and neighbouring Mayfair. Many of these migrants are Hindu or Muslim and the symbols, structures and sites of their worship and faith are evident in the physical and spiritual landscape of Fordsburg. Drawing on the literature on the ‘production and power of space ’, we show how the religious lives, rituals and intra-religious diversity of new migrants have engaged and transformed physical and metaphysical space, that is the type of form and order in Fordsburg and Mayfair, Johannesburg. The ability to influence and shape the physical and social space in which they live or, on the contrary, to be subjected to a social, political and spatial order which inhibits the expression of religious identity, we argue, demonstrates the social and political position and power, of migrants in communities. To make this argument, we use empirical data from our own respective doctoral research which was undertaken in Fordsburg.


Ethnic Diversity Religious Practice Central Business District Religious Identity Indian Community 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zaheera Jinnah
    • 1
  • Pragna Rugunanan
    • 2
  1. 1.African Centre for Migration & SocietyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of Johannesburg. (UJ)Auckland ParkSouth Africa

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