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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Reconstructing 'Home' in Apartheid Cape Town: African Women and the Process of Settlement
Author:Lee, Rebekah
Year:2005
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Volume:31
Issue:3
Period:September
Pages:611-630
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:urban housing
housing improvement
women
1950-1999
Urbanization and Migration
Women's Issues
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Politics and Government
Ethnic and Race Relations
Historical/Biographical
urbanization
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
Cultural Roles
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03057070500202998
Abstract:This article concerns itself with home improvements - both as internalized process and externally visible practice - in African households in Cape Town, South Africa, under apartheid (1948-1994). It is argued that a historical analysis of home improvement provides an important portrayal not only of the structural changes to the homes in which urban Africans lived, but also of the underlying processes of settlement they undertook. The collection of trans-generational oral testimonies from 32 respondents across three generations of African women in selected households is central to the analysis. This evidence is used in conjunction with written chronologies and schematically drawn floor plans that detail renovations of predominantly City Council housing. The research indicates that Africans, and notably African women, did indeed improve their houses in particular ways, which in turn tended to reflect distinct historical trajectories. For example, 'first-generation' African women's choice of renovations in the early years of their residence in these council homes reflected both their need to fashion dwellings along very basic standards of comfort and respectability, and their hesitations over the insecurity of their tenure at the height of coercive State legislation. The ambitious scope of the expansion projects they undertook in the waning years of apartheid attested to a growing affirmation of their rootedness in the city. In contrast, in a radically altered political and social environment, younger generations developed differing notions of housing requirement and housing need. More distanced from community-based networks and more attuned to the benefits afforded by mobility in a broader sense, third-generation women freely contemplated and enthusiastically embraced future movement to other parts of the city or even to other urban areas. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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