Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Karen Bouwer

Second Advisor

Lucia Cantero


A growing body of literature on xenophobic violence in post-apartheid South Africa has shown that this form of violence targeted towards African non-nationals is closely linked to a xenophobic discourse of national chauvinism that has been deployed by powerful institutions since the nation’s independence. This capstone project seeks to highlight the role that non-national storytelling plays in addressing the issue of anti-African xenophobia and xenophobic violence in post-apartheid South Africa by challenging the discourses that contribute to it. Through the analysis of a NGO’s youth summit that revolved around the stories of four non-national speakers, this study examines the impact these storytelling sessions left on both the speakers and the audience and what it reveals about storytelling’s potentiality for diversifying the way in which migration and xenophobia is understood and talked about in post-apartheid South Africa. It discusses how non-national storytelling holds significant importance at both the personal and interpersonal level, and takes on even greater significance when situated in the context of South Africa’s post-apartheid nation building process. It argues that by allowing non-national storytellers to explore and embrace their identity while simultaneously creating opportunities for national / non-national empathy and solidarity building founded on shared feelings of racial subjugation, non-national storytelling takes on a larger role as a decolonizing force that can create alternatives to colonial discourses around nationalism, belonging, and what it means to be African in post-apartheid South Africa. It is by inquiring into the efficacy of non-national storytelling in anti-xenophobia efforts that this paper seeks to highlight the benefits of having the power of narrative building be placed in the hands of those most marginalized by the issue at hand.