Doing the Street. On Borders and Loopholes in Möllevången and Cape Town

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The dissertation is an ethnographic study focusing on two cities, Malmö in Sweden and Cape Town in South Africa. More specifically it focuses on three areas; the neighbourhoods Möllevången and Woodstock close to the respective city centres, and the street Long Street in the very heart of Cape Town central business district. These places belong to different historical and political contexts. Möllevången has in recent years become a well-known place in Sweden, a neighbourhood that includes stories on the growth of the multi-cultural society, but is also a symbol of the problems of modern city-life. Woodstock is a part of a reality where apartheid is replaced by an ambition to reconciliation, but questions are also raised about in which direction the country is headed. This can also be identified in Long Street, as shop-owners are confronted with poverty and criminal actions as well as the surrounding world, where the growing tourism seems to be calling for exclusion of the unpleasant as well as preservation of the uniqueness of the street. The aim of the dissertation is to explore these places in relation to a discussion of what forms places in a wide range, from media discourse to the very actions taking place in everyday life; how people relates to the physical environment according to movement and memory, but also to each other in everyday interaction and narrative. Obviously, as well as focusing on different areas, the dissertation focuses on the people living in them, the people who are moving in the streets, remembering the pleasant and unpleasant. Streets and public places are formed by a number of different doings, and ideas about how things are are formed as a starting point for new actions, but is also constantly challenged by the processes that develops from them. Loopholes occur, in both the physical environments and the normative structure, and different people are using different tactics to make their ways through the urban landscape. The practice of the street is formed by constant negotiations between thought and action, between fantasy and reality and — sometimes — between pleasure and pain. The dissertation takes its ways from the media landscape of Möllevången, through different personal perspectives on the area, and moves over to Woodstock and the inhabitants discussions about the future for the neighbourhood in the new South Africa. Not only how things are ,but how people are becomes an important part of the negotiations in all the areas, as interaction also transforms into models of proper behaviour. The discussion moves further to Long Street, and the shop-owners ideas about the street are related to walks with street kids, and this clearly shows two different views of the proper, but also of the whole city landscape. The concluding discussion focuses on the problems of conceptualising both places and people, but also raises the question of to what extent control of city processes is necessary — or even possible.
Translated title of the contributionDoing the Street. On Borders and Loopholes in Möllevången and Cape Town
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Division of Art History and Visual Studies
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2003 Dec 12
Print ISBNs91-7844-647-3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2003-12-12
Time: 10:15
Place: Kulturens auditorium, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Pripp, Oscar
Title: Fil. dr
Affiliation: Stockholm


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Art History


  • Michel Foucault
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Michel de Certeau
  • powerlessness
  • power
  • loophole
  • third world
  • first world
  • situation
  • media
  • narrative
  • space
  • place
  • multi-cultural
  • apartheid
  • practice
  • discourse
  • Long Street
  • Woodstock
  • Cape Town
  • Malmö
  • Möllevången
  • Cultural anthropology
  • ethnology
  • Kulturantropologi
  • etnologi


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