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PLATINUM CITY AND THE NEW SOUTH AFRICAN DREAM

  • Dinah Rajak

Abstract

Much has been written about the persistence of economic apartheid, inscribed in the geography of South Africa's cities, producing spatial configurations that are reminiscent of the old order of segregation while simultaneously embodying the particular inequities and divisions of the new neo-liberal order (Turok 2001; Harrison 2006). Through an ethnographic study of Rustenburg, the urban hub of South Africa's platinum belt (once labelled the ‘fastest growing city in Africa’ after Cairo), I explore how the failure of urban integration maps onto the failure of the promise of market inclusion. What is particular about mid-range towns such as Rustenburg is that the opportunities of ‘empowerment through enterprise’ are seen, or believed, to be all the more attainable than in large cities. Here the extended supply chains of the mining industry and the expanding secondary economy appear to offer limitless possibilities to share in the boons of the platinum boom. Yet as this account shows, the disjuncture and friction between corporate authority and local government have given rise to increasing fragmentation and exclusion, as only a very few are able to grasp the long-anticipated rewards of the new South African dream.

On a beaucoup écrit sur la persistance de l'apartheid économique inscrit dans la géographie des villes d'Afrique du Sud, en créant des configurations spatiales évocatrices de l'ancien ordre de ségrégation tout en incarnant simultanément les inégalités et les divisions particulières du nouvel ordre néolibéral (Turok 2001; Harrison 2006). À travers une étude ethnographique de Rustenburg, centre urbain de la région du platine en Afrique en Sud (autrefois qualifiée de « ville dont le rythme de croissance est le plus élevé en Afrique après Le Caire »), l'auteur explore le lien entre l’échec de l'intégration urbaine et l’échec de la promesse d'un marché inclusif. Les villes moyennes comme Rustenburg ont pour particularité le fait que les opportunités de « renforcement de l'autonomie par l'entreprise » sont perçues comme étant plus accessibles que dans les grandes villes, ou censées l’être. Les chaînes d'approvisionnement étendues de l'industrie minière et l’économie secondaire en expansion semblent y offrir des possibilités illimitées de profiter du partage des fruits du boom du platine. Pourtant, comme le rapporte cet article, la disjonction et la friction entre les entreprises et l'administration locale ont renforcé la fragmentation et l'exclusion, rares étant ceux à même de cueillir les fruits tant attendus du nouveau rêve sud-africain.

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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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