Communities in Transition: Security, Policing, Appropriation and the Formation of Community in Inner-City Johannesburg

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: Booth 67
Oral Presentation
Aidan MOSSELSON , Geography, University College London, United Kingdom
Johannesburg’s inner-city was once an area notorious for crime, grime and urban and social decay. It has been described by academics as a ‘vacuum of belonging’ (Gotz and Simone 2003) and a hyper-ghetto, home to prostitutes, drug dealers, diseased street children, criminals and their victims (Murray 2011). In recent years, however, there have been considerable efforts to regenerate the urban environment, particularly through the provision of low-income and social housing. These attempts at physical regeneration have coincided with efforts to enhance security in the area as well as foster a sense of community. This presentation examines the relationship between urban and social regeneration as well as the practices and methods utilised to achieve these aims. Of particular interest is the relationship between physical and social space and how this structures social relationships and notions of belonging. Furthermore, it explores the ways in which community is formed in a context of urban transition, insecurity and hyper-diversity. Utilising the framework developed by Henri Lefebvre (1991), it examines the perspectives of residents living in the inner-city and the ways in which they are able to or prevented from exercising their spatial imaginations and abilities to appropriate spaces in the inner-city and the effects this has on the formation of community and notions of belonging. Particular focus is on residents living in social and low-income housing’s perspectives about what community, security, appropriation and belonging mean in a situation of urban transition, social decay and insecurity, as well as what the limits of community are in these conditions and how these boundaries are drawn and reproduced.