05 July 2016
Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA
The Burning Season is Here
Shack fires are a constant danger. But that danger becomes more serious in winter. This is because during winter people who are living in shacks are trying to keep warm. As a result people resort to making fires which increases the risk of their homes being burnt. There was a serious fire in the Foreman Road settlement in Durban in the past month leaving hundreds of people destitute. On Sunday five people lost their lives in the fire that burnt down the Plastic View settlement in Pretoria. On the same day another fire broke out in the Kenville settlement in Durban which left 76 families without homes and their documents, work clothes and school uniforms burnt. Continue reading
Published in The Mercury as ‘The Dynamics of Informal Housing’ on 12 December 2015.
The Transit Camp is a Form of Social Control
Development is often held up as the answer to some of our most pressing social problems. Corruption is often seen as a key threat to attaining the efficient ‘delivery’ of developmental gains. But development and corruption are often – although of course not always – phenomena best understood as strategies for securing political containment. Continue reading
Kerry Chance, Cultural Anthropology
This article combines theories of liberal governance, material life, and popular politics to examine the unruly force of fire in state-citizen struggles. Tracking interactions between state agents and activist networks during South Africa’s celebrated democratic transition, I analyze how the urban poor leverage the material properties of fire to secure techno-institutional claims to energy infrastructure, and more broadly to political inclusion and economic redistribution. I highlight how fire, as a social and historical as well as a chemical process, becomes a staging ground for the promise and endangerment of infrastructure. Approaching fire as intertwined with power, I argue, illuminates how those living on the margins of the city come to inhabit political roles that transform economic relationships in the context of liberalism.
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