Critical Perspectives on the Postapartheid City

Explore the challenges and opportunities of urban development in South Africa.

This course explores the challenges and opportunities of urban development in South Africa that are characteristic for many cities in the Global South. It will do so by investigating the history of inequality that is still characterizing much of contemporary urban development dynamics. We will engage with the work of prominent urban scholars such as Vanessa Watson, Edgar Pieterse or Phil Harrisson to unveil some explanatory factors for current urban processes.

This broader frame will allow us to engage and to narrow down larger discussions about urban transformation with a particular interest in Cape Town. Cape Town is lately known for its water crisis and restrictions. It will be the first city in the world with a “day zero”. On the 16th of April 2018 it is calculated the city will officially run out of water.

The water crisis is only one sign for the city’s unsustainable development. In Cape Town, two worlds meet: The well-known tourist destination with many residents and tourists alike enjoying the high quality of life and Cape Town as the destination and home for the poor where the majority faces severe difficulties to secure their livelihoods. The need to address these unbalances for a more equitable and sustainable future is evident.

This course will be held in English and brings together a range of disciplinary perspectives – from geography, history, sociology, and urban studies – to study contemporary South African urban development.

The students will engage in critical text reading and develop in groups key topics that will be assembled in a booklet format. The course will be complemented by various lectures from experts in the field.