The theme profiles three books at the start that capture views and histories ‘from the margins’ and in several ways frame what follows: the first, elucidating the biographer’s craft – and the alchemy of the book; the second, reconstructing culture and politics in dissident intellectual traditions; and the third, an edited collection of black Afrikaans writers. The dominant theme of text, story and identity continues throughout and illustrates how text inscribes identity, and ways of understanding identities. At the intersection of ‘space and time’ there are the issues of state identity, identities and the politics of space, identity and Africanness. Returning to silent or marginalised identities, the theme concludes with a brief interview text on African refugees − i.e. ‘people on the move’.