Urban Politics After Apartheid  book cover
1st Edition

Urban Politics After Apartheid

ISBN 9780367590017
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
184 Pages

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Book Description

Urban Politics After Apartheid presents an understanding of gendered urban politics in South Africa as an interactive process. Based on long-term fieldwork in the former townships 20 years after the end of apartheid, it provides an in-depth analysis of how activists and local politicians engage with each other.

Sandrine Gukelberger contributes to the ongoing debate on urban governance by adding a new historicising perspective as an entry point into the urban governance arena, based upon the political trajectories of ward councillors and activists. Integrating urban governance studies with new perspectives on policy and social movements provides insight on the everyday events in which people engender, negotiate, and contest concepts, policies, and institutions that have been introduced under the catch-all banner of democracy. By conceptualising these events as encounters at different knowledge interfaces, the book develops a locus for an anthropology of policy, highlighting everyday negotiations in urban politics.

Urban Politics After Apartheid dissects the social life of policies such as Desmond Tutu’s rainbow nation metaphor beyond national symbolism, and academic and public discourse that largely portray participation in South Africa to be weak, local politicians to be absent, and social movements to be toothless tigers. Proving the inaccuracy of these portrayals, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of South African politics, urban studies, political anthropology and political sociology.

Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations

Glossary of terms

  1. Introducing Urban Politics after Apartheid

  2. From a Violent Past to Democratic Futures

  3. Old Racism in New Guises

  4. Urban governance and Parallel Spaces

  5. Institutionalising Activism at the Interface with Government

  6. Urban Experiences in Politics and Activism


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Sandrine Gukelberger is a postdoctoral research fellow in Sociology at the Ruhr-University Bochum and holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from Bielefeld University. At the end of 2018 she will take up a new position at Konstanz University to work on youth activism in Senegal.