Download the full-sized PDF of Homelands: A narrative inquiry into home and belonging in an informal settlement in South AfricaDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

Homelands: A narrative inquiry into home and belonging in an informal settlement in South Africa Open Access


Other title
Informal settlement
Narrative inquiry
South Africa
Squatter camp
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
de Vos, Pieter Francois
Supervisor and department
Caine, Vera (Nursing)
Palmer, Andie (Anthropology)
Examining committee member and department
Richter, Solina (Nursing)
Smit, Brigitte (External examiner, University of South Africa)
Vallianatos, Helen (Anthropology)
Clandinin, D. Jean (Education)
Department of Anthropology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This narrative inquiry explores the experiences of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ in Woodlane Village, an informal settlement (squatter camp) in Pretoria, South Africa. From July to October 2012 and August to September 2013 I spent time in conversation with four men inquiring into our experiences of home. Our journeys and our relationships are retold as narrative accounts. These accounts are set against the backdrop of the events that led to the creation of Woodlane Village and the larger social and historical forces that have shaped South Africa. They convey the nuanced and complex ways in which people make sense of home and belonging. In doing so, they reveal how individuals experience life in a temporary and transient community and the negotiations required to make a home in such a place. While the stories are situated within Woodlane Village they speak to the larger experience of being human and the ways in which we create belonging through relationships. They speak of love and loss, of adaptation and resilience, and of the yearning to live in community with others despite the forces pulling us apart. In this way, the stories offer new insights to the unique realities of post-apartheid South Africa. The experiential complexity of life in the settlement mirrors the contrasts, tensions, and dynamics in the country. The resulting dissertation is a meditation on history, place, and identity — and the way our understandings of ourselves are constructed and refashioned through the stories we tell about our lives and our homes. As such, the work expands our understandings of narrative, intersubjectivity, and place-making. It also breaks new ground by bringing the methodology of narrative inquiry into the discipline of anthropology.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 1370341
Last modified: 2015:10:12 13:33:57-06:00
Filename: de Vos_Pieter_Spring 2014.pdf
Original checksum: dec95dc84e84845357a723708d405ef7
Well formed: true
Valid: false
Status message: Invalid page tree node offset=435720
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date