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Cities Remapped: Industry, Power and Linkages

This sub-theme explores how urban economic structures and the nature of the state influence social processes. Put differently, the social outcomes of urban political economies will be explored. The map of Tshwane has been shaped by decades of state intervention. The city became a key part of the apartheid state’s military-industrial-complex with the location of the Iscor steel works in the west in 1934, as well as the importance of the military’s headquarters in Thaba Tshwane (previously Robertson Heights, later Voortrekkerhoogte). A part of the state’s intervention in the mapping of the city is large-scale forced removals in the 1950s and 1960s of people from places such as Lady Selborne to further north – notably Soshanguve and Mabopane – essentially stripping urban citizens of their national citizenship as well by moving them to apartheid’s Bantustan’s (Carruthers, 2000). This is part of the reason why Tshwane is currently one of the world’s largest cities in terms of square kilometres. The Iscor works were closed down in 1982, even before the end of apartheid, and the city’s map was redrawn yet again, to be dominated by the civil service and the increased construction of shopping centres around the city’s suburban peripheries, drawing commercial activities out of the inner city. Current attempts to redraw this map through urban planning are constrained by apartheid’s spatial legacies, as well as the development of new gated communities alongside urban slums (Landman, 2006). The city’s hinterland to the north and the west is also changed fundamentally with the rise of new mining activities, notably of platinum in places such as Rustenburg and Mokopane. Tshwane also remains the heart of South Africa’s diplomatic community, which provides a local cosmopolitan flavour with global linkages, typical of capital cities.
Questions to be examined under this subtheme include: What is the relationship between location, power and mobility in the city? What networks have historically tied up the meanings and practices of citizenship, the military, state and civil service? How are these networks and relationships being transformed? How are they linked to similar global systems of power, or contestation of such systems, by ordinary citizens and state officials in the current post-apartheid moment? What is the nature of the state bureaucracy-military-industrial complex? What is the relationship between welfare, warfare, and workfare that has shaped the history of the city? 
This subtheme focuses on how urban power is constructed, reproduced, evaded and contested and how these processes relate to the concretisation of space in place in the form of industrial and state linkages to social structure (see Harvey, 2012). Initial studies within this subtheme will include an ethnographic account of gated communities; the relationship between the city and its hinterlands, such as the erstwhile Bantustan territories of Bophuthatswana, the mining hinterland (the platinum belt to the north and north-west); a study of cooperatives and the solidarity economy in Tshwane; the diplomatic community and other non-state diplomatic actors; the development of shopping malls as spaces that generate alternative public space, new lifestyles, identities, alongside new forms of exclusion; and the spatial economies of Pretoria/Tshwane.


Carruthers, Jane. 2000. ‘Urban land claims in South Africa: the case of Lady Selborne township, Pretoria, Gauteng.’ Kleio, 32(1): 23–41. Harvey, David. 2012. Rebel cities: From the right to the city to the urban revolution. London: Verso. Landman, Karina. 2006. ‘Privatising public space in post-apartheid South African cities through neighbourhood enclosures.’ GeoJournal, 66:133–146.

Principal researchers

Prof Andries Bezuidenhout, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities, UP
Prof Mark Oranje, Department of Town and Regional Planning, Faculty of Engineering, UP
Dr Geoff Pigman, Department of Political Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, UP
Dr Vasabjit Banerjee, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities, UP
Dr Detlev Krige, Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities, UP
Mr Graham Young, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, UP

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