The Harvard Social Anthropology Program Seminar Series Presents
"Governing ‘the Poor’: Development Futures in Democratic South Africa"
A talk by Kerry Chance (Harvard University)
4:15 p.m. Monday, April 8th 2013
William James Hall 15:50
This talk examines shifting political meanings of housing evictions in democratic South Africa. Since the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, townships and shack settlements – commemorated in liberation histories as heroic battlegrounds and shameful testaments to apartheid – have been recast in public discourse as ‘slums,’ zones of de facto criminality, earmarked for clearance or development. In recent years, residents have been moved en masse away from public spaces to ‘transit camps,’ the latest technology of slum elimination that is reshaping the urban periphery. Street protests against these evictions have been officially condemned and met with brutality by police and private security forces. While state agents justify evictions under a liberal logic of progressively realized rights and inclusive citizenship, residents see continuities with apartheid-era removals and new forms of exclusion at the intersections of race and class. I argue, by studying these interactions between residents and state agents, governmental modes of managing slum populations and relations of force become visible, and with them, emerging political practices of a collectively self-identified ‘poor.’