The Production of Racist Spaces: A historical comparative exploration of the spatialization of racism in South Africa and Israel

Authors: Jacob Boersema*, university of amsterdam
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Cultural Geography, Middle East
Keywords: race, racism, South Africa, marxism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Capitol Ballroom 1, Hyatt Regency, Fourth Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores what it means for geographers to study racism from a spatial perspective. In order to make explicit connections between spatial and racial processes, we examine the two case studies of South Africa and Israel. In contrast to contemporary race scholars, who see space as an “enabling technology” through which race is produced (Goldberg, 1994), we understand race and space as mutual constitutive. Using Cedric Robinson’s idea of racial capitalism (Robinson, 1983) together with Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the production of space (Lefebvre, 1990), we demonstrate how the production of racist spaces is contingent on settler colonial ideologies, regimes of capital accumulation, geographical particularity. Using a historical comparative method, we analyze specific places within the two countries—the farm/the kibbutz, Tel Aviv/Cape Town, gated community/security settlement—to understand how they are imagined, planned, and experienced. We suggest that a more sophisticated theoretical framework on the production of racist spaces provides a new way to explain the durability of racial inequality in its varied spatial forms. It also suggests practical pathways to challenge existing racists spatial practices and orders.

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