The political economy of neighbourhood activism in Cape Town
Presenter(s): Luke Staniland
Venue: CSSR Seminar Room R429 Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description:
This presentation examines the emergence and evolution of ‘progressive activism and organisation’ between 1976 and 2006 in the African township of Guguletu and the coloured township of Bonteheuwel within the City of Cape Town. Focusing on youth, student and adult involvement in struggle over thirty years it compares both how activism has changed over time (including as a result of democratisation) and how it differed between and within these two communities.
Focusing on people's positions within the state’s economic and distributional networks and the impact of historical experience of class formation on expectation it challenges views of community struggles as dualistic conflicts between classes, races or between the oppressed and forces of global capital. Instead it argues that throughout the thirty years under consideration the City’s political economy combined with changing political opportunities for activism to create complex coalitions of competing and collaborating class forces. These coalitions shaped a local activism that has been characterised by its diversity and fragmentation, as much as its unified sense of struggle and purpose.