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quinten.edward.williams@gmail.com

Jeppe Street in Johannesburg is a dynamic area in the CBD with many Ethiopian and Eritrean owned shops. We conducted our interactions between Jeppe Street and Bree Street and from Eloff street to Troy Street. The majority of goods in this area are mostly imported from China, such as cheap clothing, cooking utensils and accessories. There are also some shops orientated to Ethiopian and Eritrean cultural objects, as well as many Ethiopian/Eritrean style restaurants. The shops are constructed as contingently designed spaces within the shells of re-purposed modernist buildings. This space of trade and diaspora has a strong business community and many ties to other cities and countries.

My first interest in the Jeppe Street Story Project was that it intended to find ways of developing practice-led research processes within situational and participatory encounters. A second interest in the project was that it was focused on the spatial relations which result in specific places, in this case, Jeppe Street.

This project ran over an eight month period, and entailed interviews, storytelling, competitions, music, food making, mural painting, writing, photography, visualisation and image making, mapping and theoretical reflection. We had to develop a network of collaborators in the area – a task easier said than done. Story was used as a way to work with some of the complex social and business relationships in Jeppe Street. A story in Jeppe Street is created by people and goods. It is relational and it occurs between human and non-human actors in a community of people with varied, sometimes overlapping interests.

A sustained presence by using a logic of the area: making and talking as research

A point when I started having sustained conversations with people was when we moved into our shops. In my shop,…

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A social space in-between business practices

Some of the most insightful moments I have had about Ethiopian and Eritrean activities in Jeppe Street have been from…

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Brand products, cultural branding and its policing

Most of the product in the area is directly imported goods from China. There are global business such as McDonald’s.…

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Money, proxies, and participation

Showing support for this project or not seemed to be a contentious issue in the area. The general response to…

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A community of proximities and spies

What has struck me is that this community of Ethiopians and Eritreans, regardless of their past conflicts in their home…

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Understanding stories as relational: the human and the non-human

People's anecdotes, greetings, excuses, lies, jokes, invitations and questions certainly did captivate much of my attention, but so did the…

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The stories created by people and goods are real

Jeppe Street may be approached as multiple layers of stories that intersect or remain imperceptible: they are told to people…

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Research interests and aims in the Jeppe Research Project

The Jeppe Research Project was a project in which the Wits School of Arts (WSOA) participated alongside the WITS School…

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