From Aliens to Apartheid

Reimagining Segregation in Neill Blomkamp's District 9 (2009)




Film, South Africa, Apartheid, Racial Justice, Fiction


This review analyzes how Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 film District 9 uses an alien species forced into a refugee camp as an allegory for the institutionalized racial discrimination experienced in South Africa under apartheid. Three key aspects are explored in the following paragraphs: 1) District 9’s resonance beyond typical sci-fi entertainment by engaging with pressing sociopolitical issues; 2) Its representation of dehumanization and oppression of marginalized groups through the alienation of the aliens; and 3) The film’s innovative mockumentary style blending fiction with documentary realism to enhance emotional impact.


Arendt, Hannah. 1977. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Penguin Books.

Beinart, William, and Saul Dubow. 1995. “Introduction: The historiography of segregation and apartheid.” In Segregation and Apartheid in Twentieth-Century South Africa, edited by William Beinart and Saul Dubow, 1-24. London: Routledge.

Du Bois, W.E.B. 2020. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. Orinda, CA: Seawolf Press.

Haarhoff, Errol J. 2011. “Appropriating modernism: Apartheid and the South African township.” A| Z ITU Journal of the Faculty of Architecture 8, no. 01: 184-195,

Juhasz, Alexandra, and Jesse Lerner. 2006. “Introduction: phony definitions and troubling taxonomies of the fake documentary”. In F Is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing, edited by Alexandra Juhasz and Jesse Lerner. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press. 1-38.

Landesman, Ohad. 2008. “In and out of this world: digital video and the aesthetics of realism in the new hybrid documentary.” Studies in Documentary Film 2, no. 1: 33-45.

Maylam, Paul. 2017. South Africa's racial past: The history and historiography of racism, segregation, and apartheid. London: Routledge.

Mulvey, Laura. (2006). “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”. In Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks, edited by Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, 342-352. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Plantinga, Carl. 2008. Emotion and affect. In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film, 86-96. London: Routledge.

Roscoe, Jane, and Hight, Craig. 2018. Faking it: Mock-documentary and the subversion of factuality. Manchester: Manchester University Press.



How to Cite

Rosas-Salazar, Vladimir. 2024. “From Aliens to Apartheid: Reimagining Segregation in Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009)”. Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science 57 (May). Online:51-57.