Uneven spaces: core and periphery in the Gauteng City-Region
Peripheral areas of the Gauteng City-Region – like small towns on the edge, large peri-urban and commercial farming areas, sprawling dormitory townships, huge swathes of displaced urbanisation in ex-Bantustans, and remote industrial and mining areas – are all poorly understood. Yet there is evidence that many of these areas are undergoing rapid change, with profound implications for many current policy debates including what to do about inequitable economic growth patterns, how to manage ongoing population movements in the post-apartheid period, where best to locate large public housing schemes, and so on.
Uneven spaces: Core and periphery in the Gauteng City-Region, GCRO’s sixth research report, comes from a clear recognition that despite the comparative wealth of Gauteng and its role in driving the national economy there are places of relative ‘peripherality’ in the GCR that require attention. The report is also a response to a strong focus in the existing literature on the physical and economic core of the province, the City of Johannesburg in particular. By contrast there is a relative paucity of analysis on less central parts of the city-region.
The work is the result of a research partnership between the GCRO and the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning (SA&CP), in the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University. GCRO’s Dr Sally Peberdy wrote the first part of the report entitled ‘Uneven development – core and periphery in Gauteng’. Prof Philip Harrison and Yasmeen Dinath from SA&CP compiled the second part, ‘Gauteng – on the edge’. Both parts, albeit through different modes, consider transitions in the social- and space-economies of outlying places.
The first part investigates the dynamics of peripheral areas in Gauteng through the lens of theories of uneven development. Showcasing a wealth of data and maps generated from the Census and GCRO’s own Quality of Life surveys, it analyses the multiple ways that spaces may be peripheral. These include unequal access to housing and services; the spread of income, household assets and employment opportunities; variations in perceived quality of life; and so on. The analysis builds from an initial binary delineation of parts of Gauteng as either ‘core’ or ‘periphery. It then progressively nuances our understanding by showing that notions of core and periphery are relational, that processes of change across what may be counted as core or periphery are often indeterminate and contradictory, and that there are often ‘peripheral’ areas in the heart of the GCR, and ‘core’ features in areas conventionally regarded as on the margin. This section concludes with thoughts on the role of government in creating, sustaining and ameliorating multiple forms of peripherality,
The second part of the report asks the question ‘what is happening along the geographic edge of the GCR?’, and seeks to answer this both through the lens of scholarship on edge cities, peri-metropolitan areas, and agglomeration, as well as through a number of in-depth case studies in six types of peripheral areas:
- Areas with extractive economies (Carletonville);
2. Industrialising ex-mining areas (Nigel-Heidelberg);
3. Areas with state-implanted industry (The Vaal, including Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark and Sasolburg);
4. Decentralised growth points (Babelegi);
5. Agricultural service centres (Bronkhorstspruit); and
6, Recreational hubs (Hartbeespoort).
Through its exhaustive narrative accounts of the development of specific places on the edge of the GCR, this section of the report compellingly highlights the importance of history and timing, and asks us to consider how urban development drives economic development and vice versa.
Although ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ are artificial constructs, these terms gesture at very real spaces of uneven growth and development. The two parts of this report, different but complementary, considerably deepen our understanding of what is going on in parts of the city-region that are less well researched, and help focus the attention of policy-makers concerned with the causes and effects of – as well as possible solutions to – spatially uneven development outcomes.
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Linked to project(s):Peripheries and rural / urban transitions (2017)
Pathways to antiracism
There is an apparent resurgence of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination on the basis of ethnicity in South Africa. In this context careful policy-focused analytical work is critical to advance the constitutional values of non-racialism and equality. Pathways to antiracism, GCRO’s fifth Research Report, builds on GCRO’s ongoing research into race dynamics in the Gauteng City-Region, and aims to inform and provoke discussion around pathways towards social change. The study results from a long-standing partnership between the GCRO and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) on the meaning and interpretations of non-racialism in contemporary South Africa.
Pathways to antiracism consists of three substantive papers: ‘Antiracism in post-apartheid South Africa by Kira Erwin; ‘Doing antiracism work: Seeing through racial subjectivities’ by Caryn Abrahams; and ‘Global antiracism strategies and practice’, also by Kira Erwin. These papers are interspersed with photo essays, poetry and other short contributions.
Antiracism in post-apartheid South Africa. This paper examines the contested nature of the concept of antiracism, and reviews selected strategies and practices by the state and various civil society and faith-based organisations to address racism in South Africa after 1994. Since antiracism is a less frequently used concept in South Africa than non-racialism, the paper starts with an overview of antiracism theories from within and outside the country. Against this theoretical backdrop, the paper then analyses interview data from selected South African organisations that have undertaken strategies and projects to address racism. Many of these initiatives are directed at the micro level of institutions and communities. They provide valuable learnings that suggest meaningful change within project participants and in specific sites, as well as sophisticated practices that acknowledge how race is interwoven with other forms of social difference, including class, culture, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. However, these projects do not collectively add up to a national success story of reversing racism. In its conclusion the paper makes a case for thinking about how we may best move these isolated pockets of practice into a broader national antiracism strategy. One key suggestion is to create a space for collaboration and collectivity between civil society organisations, as well as between government and civil society. This shared knowledge project may potentially leverage the strengths of existing strategies and facilitate the co-design of new strategies, in turn offering exciting possibilities for a national South African dialogue around plural rather than purist notions of antiracism that engages directly with many of the theoretical debates globally and locally.
Doing antiracism work: seeing through racial subjectivities. This paper considers the way activists and others approach antiracism work. It begins with an explanation of the various ways people think through race, highlighting three typical subjectivities that shape racialised perspectives. The first, race essentialism, encompasses crass racism where there are assertions of superiority or inferiority. The second, race evasiveness, is when people distance themselves from accusations of racism by couching exclusion in other terms. The third, race cognisance, is when people acknowledge how race and racialised histories have shaped their ways of being and acting. The paper draws out these ways of seeing race, or acting in racialised ways, by looking at two recent examples that captured the public imagination, and demonstrates the complexities of race cognisance by capturing the voices of activists. The paper concludes that in this current conjuncture in South Africa, the challenge for activists is to teach people to be critical of their own race evasiveness, and, more generally, to think through ways to get beyond the struggle between race evasiveness, essentialism and awareness.
Global antiracism strategies and practice. In 2001 South Africa signed the United Nation’s Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. One of the commitments in the DDPA was the development of a national action plan (NAP) against racism, xenophobia and related intolerances. Fifteen years after the conference, South Africa has now developed a draft NAP. While very few countries have produced monitoring and evaluation reports on their action plans, where these are available (for example, Canada and Ireland) some lessons can be drawn on what did not work and why. This paper examines NAPs within an international context, and outlines some of the key lessons South African policymakers could learn from the experiences of other countries that have implemented NAPs. It includes a discussion on some of the inherent tensions between NAPs and international compliance, and more specifically how South Africa may want to start thinking about these during the further development and implementation of such a plan. The paper’s conclusion also raises some critical questions on whether NAPs work and what is needed if they are to move beyond an exercise in international compliance.
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