Conceiving Territories of Inequality: Working from the outside to the inside in Johannesburg

Authors: Lindsay Blair Howe*, ETH Zurich
Topics: Urban Geography, Qualitative Methods, Cultural Geography
Keywords: inequality, urban studies, johannesburg, south africa, africa, extended urbanization, poverty, periphery, inequality footprint
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Hampton Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Today, urban research is increasingly confronted with macro-scale urbanization processes that unfurl into the distant peripheries of (mega)regions. Simultaneously, it is rife with examples of how micro-processes shape territory into spaces of privilege and spaces of relegation. The urbanization processes that lead to uneven urban development, or territories of socio-spatial inequality, can be understood and mapped as an interrelated inequality footprint. Utilizing a decentered perspective, this paper delineates the process of working from the outside inward using the case study of the region surrounding Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa. It outlines a diachronic and synchronic process of analysis, explicating the inequality footprint of this immense region. It also describes three categories of underprivileged spaces that were discovered through conducting this process of analysis: frontiers, toeholds, and aspirations. Through the lens of the peripheries (both socially and spatially), this landscape of intensive inequality emerges in a new way, driven by the dynamics of inside and outside. This perspective allows us to theorize from below, drawing lessons from Johannesburg that are relevant to the most current debates in the field of geography today.

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