[Re]-presenting knowledge: The coverage of xenophobia research in selected South African newspapers, 2008 -2013

Kudakwashe P. Vanyoro & Lyton Ncube. (2018) [Re]-presenting knowledge: The coverage of xenophobia research in selected South African newspapers, 2008 -2013Journal of Communication and Media Research, Vol. 10, No. 1 (76-89).

Recurring xenophobic attacks on perceived foreign immigrants stand out as one of the major setbacks on South Africa’s envisaged ‘rainbow’ nation discourse. These attacks remain a topical issue in academic, media, social, economic and political circles. While a significant body of literature explores the coverage of migration and xenophobia issues in the South African mainstream press, studies examining media coverage of xenophobia research from research institutions are scarce.

This study explores the [re]-presentation of xenophobia research findings in two popular South African newspapers: the Mail & Guardian and the Sowetan from 2008 to 2013. The study utilizes a qualitative research approach. Findings show that the two analyzed newspapers uncritically picked up stories and purveyed them without a strong base facilitated by empirical research. In essence, empirical research findings were selectively utilized to ‘authenticate’ or legitimize convenient ideological positions. Finally, a clear tension between discourses of ‘empirical knowledge’ and ‘popular perceptions’; was evident in analyzed stories.

About Kuda Vanyoro

Kudakwashe Vanyoro is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa interested in migration, temporality, borders, humanitarianism and governance in Africa. His doctoral research explored how temporal disruptions at international borders shape (im) mobile bodies’ experiences and modes of waiting by focusing on irregular Zimbabwean migrant men at the Zimbabwe-South Africa border who have arrived in South Africa but are restricted in moving further into the interior. Through this inquiry, his work reveals how waiting is a component of both governing Zimbabwean migrants as well as seeking agency through the relationship between time, space, and humanitarianism in the Zimbabwe-South Africa border regime. He has also been conducting research uptake work for ACMS since 2014. As part of this role, Kudakwashe is responsible for stakeholder engagement in South Africa and is regularly called upon to brief decision-makers in government and civil society, including the creation of synthesis documents and other communication products to make evidence more accessible and applicable.