As a collection of five individual narratives, this paper goes behind the paintings, performances and poetry to understand how, not only migration and xenophobia, but lives are embodied and negotiated through creative mediums and should also be emphasised as important epistemologies. Here, a journey will be taken through understanding xenophobia and otherness from the indicator of language and will look at how the arts, being a type of language, are offering an alternative space and way of communicating and being. Accordingly, the research further investigates (self-) representation from the individual and community, how public displays of pain are really felt by the artists sharing their vulnerability, and also how creative practices create a space to negotiate between the complexities of ‘home’ and the violent state of xenophobia arrived to in and beyond South Africa. Consequently, the study explores how trauma and experiences are not sometimes visible on the body, but are carried through the mind, spirit and generations that come later.

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Shyamika Jayasundara-Smits
Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Gabriela Anderson. (2022, December 16). To be undisappeared : the art(s) of violent outbursts against African migrants in South Africa. Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD). Retrieved from