SITUATED ECOLOGIES gathers art, design and research collaborations to contest and democratise ecologies.

Teaching with THE LINDEKA, an essay film

The Lindeka: When a City Ate a Book is a film on property, pollution, and difference in the postcolonial city filmed in eThekwini-Durban. We here provide suggestions for how to teach with the film. For a synopsis, credits, and how the film was made, go here.

Idea of a class

Add short video lecture by Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson. (To be added.)
To be used by the lecturer to build from, or to screen or assign for the class.


Extended readings

  • Lalu, Premesh. 2009. The Deaths of Hintsa: Postapartheid South Africa and the Shape of Recurring Pasts. Cape Town: HSRC Press. (“Introduction: thinking ahead”)(30 pages)
  • Laporte, Dominique. 2000. History of Shit. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Swyngedouw, Erik. 2006. Circulations and metabolisms: (Hybrid) natures and (cyborg) cities. Science as Culture. 15(2):105–121. DOI: 10.1080/09505430600707970.

Link to the film

During 2024 and parts of 2025, we are still submitting THE LINDEKA to film festivals so we cannot release it to the public just yet. However, if you want to use it in class for closed screenings, please contact either Jacob von Heland or Henrik Ernstson and we can share a link and password to watch the film in class. Below is the official trailer of the film.

The Lindeka: When a City Ate a Book (64 min, SVA Toronto, 2023), a cinematic ethnography and essay film created by Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson in collaboration with Anita Mkizwana and Philisiwe Twijnstra, World Premiere at Society for Visual Anthropology, American Association of Anthropology, Toronto, 17 November 2023. Will be released Open Access in 2025.

Short synopsis

Decades after liberation in eThekwini-Durban, South Africa, the young woman Lindeka reads the book Malfeasance. In this essay, philosopher Michel Serres fleshes out the advent of the Anthropocene in his unique “French” manner. Serres does not trace the modern planetary present to the advent of agriculture, the industrial revolution, or even the postwar “great acceleration.” Rather, his narrative of the climate crisis starts with spitting in the soup—with tracing how humans of everyday and age used practices of pollution to own and create property, with industrial society following suit to appropriate land, rivers, and the skies through pollution. Lindeka is fascinated, but finds Serres’ narrative increasingly disturbing for what it omits: Where is eThekwini-Durban, or even Africa in this universalising history of our planet? Striking up a conversation with Michel, Lindeka decides to make her own study of historical difference and global connection. Using the camera and mobilising her city, Lindeka interviews people about ancestors, participates in rituals, walks the streets, and travels to mosques, temples, graveyards, sugarcane fields, and a slaughterhouse. Through this method of enrollment, and becoming enrolled, she reads the French philosopher against the grain of her body, her relations, and her location in the world.