Env16
The politics of life on the urban margins in South Africa

Convenors:
Sarah-Jane Cooper-Knock (University of Edinburgh)
Chair:
Duduzile Ndlovu (University of the Witwatersrand)
Stream:
Environment and Geography
Location:
Room 25
Session slots:
1
Thursday 13 June, 16:15 - 18:00

Short abstract:

This panel explores urban marginality and the politics of everyday life on the urban margins. It asks who is shaping the terms of urban inclusion and exclusion and how they are being questioned or confirmed; resisted or reinforced. It welcomes comparative papers that include South Africa.

Long abstract:

This panel interrogates the nature of urban marginality in contemporary South Africa and the politics of everyday life on the urban margins. It explores who is shaping the terms of inclusion and exclusion in urban areas and how they are being questioned or confirmed; resisted or reinforced. It welcomes papers addressing these questions in comparative perspective within, and beyond, South Africa. The panel critically engages with the parameters and meaning of 'the urban margins', asking whether this a useful term of engagement for exploring the varied relationships of power that shape urban life: - We know that societies have often relied, in diverse ways, upon those who they exclude and oppress. What does this mean for the utility of 'marginality' as a concept? Is such reliance shifting with changes in the labour market and political landscape? - Can we successfully resist 'marginality' becoming singular and, therefore, unable to capture intersectionality? Can we prevent it becoming a negative demarcation that is defined solely in terms of lack? - How does the idea of 'marginality' interact with other concepts, like that of the 'periphery'? Are both equally spatial and relational? Are there directions one can take us that the other cannot? NB: We ask panelists to reflect on their citation practices, seeing these as indicative of the conversations in which they are involved. We invite panelists to think about the diversity of voices they are engaging with in their paper and how they might seek out new voices with which to engage.