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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Space, domesticity and 'people's power': civic organisation in Alexandra in the 1990s
Author:Lucas, JustineISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
urban society
urban planning
Urbanization and Migration
Women's Issues
Politics and Government
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020189508707817
Abstract:Alexandra township, a small but densely populated area northeast of Johannesburg (South Africa), was established as a freehold township for 'natives or persons of colour' in 1912. Despite its history as a site of struggle and resistance to apartheid, Alexandra has never been a homogeneous community. During the period of freehold tenure, landlords crammed their stands with tenants and charged exorbitant rents, leading to clearly marked social and class divisions in the township. This paper argues that local-level civic politics in Alexandra in the 1990s are embedded in social relations, which are conceptualized and represented in spatial terms. The first section of the paper uses two contrasting case studies from one specific area to explore the possible reasons for different levels of organization. The comparison of an established yard committee with a yard that has not been successfully organized by the Alexandra Civic Organization (ACO) suggests that historical continuities arising from Alexandra's freehold past play a significant role in the predisposition of these two yards to civic organization. The second section takes a closer look at the successfully organized yard, and questions whether women are in fact recognized as full political actors. Notes, ref., sum.