Apartheid South Africa is often assumed to have generated the conditions for its own demise. This case study of Alexandra township illustrates how this teleological assumption privileges structure over agency. A five-fold examination of space in rebellion — as a source of ruling class power, a form of hegemony, a target for counter-hegemonic challenge, an object of re-imagining, and a resource for popular mobilization — suggests that forms of resistance involve decisive human activity and choice. In spite of the actual and felt illegitimacy of the South African state, “normality” made spatial arrangements seem impenetrable at first. While these spaces provided multiple resources for collective action and social mobilization, full use could not be made until one section of the rebels — the youth — violently shattered the “veneer of normality” and reversed the meanings of everyday life. By treating space as a “target” during the “Six Day War”, the young rebels made possible the subsequent reshaping of consciousness. The youth, the adults who were their main competitors for establishing an alternative hegemony, and the intellectuals acting on their behalf were then able to envisage, intellectualize and even partially implement a new spatial order.
Bozzoli, B. (2001), "Space, power and identity in an “enclosed” rebellion: Alexandra, South Africa, 1986", Davis, D. (Ed.) Political Power and Social Theory (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 197-246. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0198-8719(00)80027-7Download as .RIS
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