Enchanted Suburbanism: Fantasy, Fear and Suburbia in Johannesburg

  • Obvious Katsaura
Part of the Global Diversities book series (GLODIV)


This chapter develops the concept of enchanted suburbanism to interpret how fantasy, fear, desire, religion and ritual combine to (re-)configure the politics of life in and beyond Johannesburg’s suburbia. The chapter analyses the emplacement and enclosure of black and white middle classes within suburban areas of Johannesburg by unpacking how this is a function of fear, fantasy and desire. In this case, the chapter points to the idolization and commoditization of ‘suburbia’ as a symbol of socio-economic mobility, taste and security. Yet, suburbia paradoxically represents heightened risk as a marked symbol of wealth and of potential loot for desiring criminals. Fear, therefore, becomes the defining force of life in the suburb, determining its architecture, social rhythm and, in general, its aura. It assumes an omnipotence that to some extent equals, parallels or invites religion. In the context of the ‘riskization’ of suburbia, it is logical for some, if not many, suburbanites to retreat into the world of religion, ritual and the routine as a coping mechanism, if not a symptom of defeatism.


Security Guard Gated Community South African City White Middle Class Edge City 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Obvious Katsaura
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Society Work and Development Institute (SWOP)University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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