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Journal article

N2: reading, writing, walking the South African highway


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Taylor & Francis Group
Africa | Southern Africa

This piece is drawn from a larger project that asks what it might mean to write a cultural history or "biography" of the longest highway in South Africa, the N2. Influenced by literature on the everyday, on infrastructures and the "infra-ordinary," my approach pays attention to the highway as a material artefact. Who builds, maintains and manages it; who makes their life along it; what subcultures, lexicons and social behaviours can be read off it? Exploring the possibilities of creative non-fiction within the environmental humanities, the piece here unfolds as an exercise in psychogeography, or a deconstructed travelogue. While much travel writing about modern Cape Town describes a (motorised) journey from airport to city, here I reverse the gaze and proceed on foot from town to the airport along the hard shoulder of the N2. In doing so I try to understand the vexed relations between drivers and pedestrians in a divided city, and to conduct an "anthropology of the near" on the...


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