Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Geography (MA)

Degree Level





Fiona Davidson

Committee Member

Tom Graff

Second Committee Member

John V. Brahana


Social sciences, Earth sciences, Cartography, Conflict, Othering, South Africa, Xenophobia


Xenophobia can be defined as the hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers or of their politics or culture (Ngwane et al., 2008). This sentiment reached its tipping point in urban areas across the Republic of South Africa in May 2008 when mass, widespread and systematic attacks against African non-nationals took place across the country. Although previous research agrees on who played the various roles during this crisis event (Everatt, 2010), little research has been carried out to create a predictive model to assess where future violence could occur based on a set of conflict indicators. The purpose of this research is to revisit the sociopolitical, geographical and geopolitical landscape of the Republic of South Africa during the year preceding the violence of May 2008 to identify the conflict indicators that worked towards triggering the violence. Once these indicators are identified, they will be geospatially represented through a series of quantitative thematic maps.

Findings from this research reveal that there is a positive correlation between conflict indicators and large xenophobic events and the importance of this research lies in its ability to serve as the basis for a conflict prediction model. The ability to geospatially represent the conflict indicators that served to exacerbate xenophobic tensions across the Republic of South Africa leading up to the violence of May 2008 can be duplicated today to identify the geographic locations that are most susceptible to experience a large xenophobic event.