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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The politics of informal housing in Alexandra township: reflections on a politically-engaged urban anthropology
Author:Lucas, JustineISNI
Periodical:African Anthropology (ISSN 1024-0969)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:South Africa
Southern Africa
Subjects:urban society
informal settlements
urban anthropology
Urbanization and Migration
Anthropology and Archaeology
Development and Technology
Ethnic and Race Relations
Politics and Government
Anthropology, Folklore, Culture
housing policy
Urban policy
Alexandra (South Africa)
Abstract:Many of the 'black' property owners from the East Bank suburb of Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg (South Africa), who in late February 1996 attacked residents of a squatter camp that had sprung up on their doorstep, were members of the ANC and were represented by the ANC-aligned East Bank Civic Association (EBCA). Local government officials, who promised to remove the squatters, were also mainly ANC members, but several of them were members of the Alexandra Civic Organization (ACO), which had championed the rights of squatters in the 1980s. Conducting field research in such a situation presents challenges and opportunities for a politically engaged anthropology which confronts not only the ambiguities of the anthropologist's position as a researcher, but also those of agencies, whether ordinary people, government officials, or urban planners, which would make use of the research for urban strategies. In this context, the author presents a critical analysis of the positions taken by the ANC and ACO in relation to informal housing and argues that these organizations' attitudes to squatters are based quite openly on class interests and ideological disputes rather than on informed effort to understand urban processes and to adhere to the ideals of government policy. Bibliogr., notes, ref.