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Johannesburg Lecture

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Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon

on 16 May 2016

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Transcript of Johannesburg Lecture

1904 Slum Clearances from Brickfields to Klipspruit

1923, Urban Areas Act,
Murray-Thornton Commission

1930, Foundation of Orlando

1955 Sophiatown

1970s/1980s evictions of inner-city

1982 -Govender Case
Post 1994
Evictions from inner-city based on health and safety

2007 Inner City Regeneration Charter

2012 Blue Moonlight Court Case

2013 - Operation Clean Sweep
rituals of purging, cleansing and dispossession
As John Maud observed in 1938 “one of the most stubborn and complicated problems of local government in Johannesburg has been the securing of decent living conditions for the heterogeneous population”

In 2014, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute reported that “private sector rentals are too expensive for many poor households seeking accommodation in inner city areas. The gap in supply and demand of low-income rental accommodation remains a crisis”
1904 -- Threat of Plague and the Burning Down of Brickfields -- Forced Removals to Klipspruit and 'Malay' Location on recommendations of the
Public Health Committee (
image Kallaway & Pearson 1986)
'The goal of the City government's Inner City Regeneration Strategy is to raise and sustain private investment in the inner city, leading to a rise in property values.'


2003 -- Inner City Regeneration Strategy

Urban Development Zones (tax breaks for private investors)
Better Buildings Programme (conversion of 'Bad Buildings' into Better Buildings

2004 Establishment of Johannesburg Social Housing Company. However, still
under 1000 units of social housing.

2007- Inner City Regeneration Charter

'a key residential node where a diverse range of people from different income groups and backgrounds can have their residential needs met. The inner city will not be a dormitory for the poor, nor an exclusive enclave of loft apartments, galleries and coffee shops'

2013 -- Corridors of Freedom (focusing on transportation nodes)
-- Operation 'Clean Sweep': Assault on Informal Trading

In 1905 “though the African population amounted to almost a million, the mine recruiters were able to enrol less than 10 000 Transvaal Africans. Two-thirds of the labour supply usually came from Mozambique" (Denoon 1967, image Kallaway & Pearson 1986)
Part 3. Concepts and Readings

"The Right to the City"

"The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from the kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources; it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is,moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitable depends on the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization" (Harvey)

Wacquant -- Advanced Urban Marginality

Symptoms -- homelessness, unemployment, predatory crime, informal street economies, drug economies, workers made obsolete by de-industrialisation, "mounting racial violence, xenophobia and hostility towards and amongst the poor" (1641)

Fuelled by Four Structural Logics:

1. Resurgence of Social Inequality
2. The mutation of wage labour
3. The reconstruction of welfare states
4. Concentration and Stigmatization

Differential African Urbanization (Pieterse) "62% of African urbanites live in informal, autoconstructed, makeshift shelters. In otherwords, the shanty city is by and large the real African city. This further implies that the bulk of city building can be attributed to actors outside of the state and formal business sector"

"Whatever way one looks at the phenomenon of urbanisation in Africa, it is impossible not to be alarmed by the cumulative dynamic of exclusion, impoverishment and deepening inequality that is in stark evidence"

Urban scholarship needs not simply "fuller, richer and more textured accounts of ordinariness in African cities" along with a focus on the "spatiality of the city"

Simone the concept "people as infrastructure ... emphasizes economic collaboration among residents seemingly marginalized from and immiserated by urban life. Infrastructure is commonly understood in physical terms, as reticulated systems of highways, pipes, wires, or cables ... I wish to extend the notion of infrastructure directly to people's activities in the city"

"Inattention to the realities of the inner city by key municipal and corporate institutions has led to an intensification of the xenophobic attitudes that force foreign migrants deeper underground"

"While immigrant networks depend on the constant activation of a sense of mutual cooperation and interdendency, these ties are often more apparent than real -- especially as a complex mixture of dependence and autonomy is at work in relations among compatriots"

"Urban Governance"
- "Mobile populations highlight that there exist multiple governance and urban regulatory processes in cities, which at times compete and at other times collaborate to define urban territory" (Kihato 2013, p26 to 27)

"Urban governance is inter-constituted among a variety of actors in ways that blur the governed-ungoverned, legal-illegal and center-periphery boundaries" (Kihato p 28)

"urban regulation and authority is not based solely on legal statues and the letter of the law, but on socially embedded codes derived from relationships between actors in the state and outside of it" (Kihato 2013, p32)
source Marisa Maza
source: Guy Tillim
source: Alliance Francais
source: saconvention.co.za
source: MWS
Exercise 2 (20 minutes discussion, 20 minutes presentation)

1. Watch the music video and look at the following pictures
2. What associations do you have with these images? What words (in English, or another language do you use to describe these images)
3. In your view does migration have anything to do with these images? If so, in what ways?

"in the late 1880s ... black and white migrants drawn from throughout southern Africa and Europe had come to the Witwatersrand in their thousands in the belief that that if they could not make their fortunes then they would at least gain steady employment in the mushrooming town" Van Onselen (1982, p370)
source: David Goldblatt (1984)
Full transcript