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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cape Town: Negotiating the Public in the Neoliberal City


Since the end of apartheid, South Africa’s economic policies and governance models have become increasingly neoliberal. The concern of this paper is how those policies and governmental modalities play out and shape the city of Cape Town. The paper utilizes the analytic of ‘public’ to examine how a formerly apartheid city has been remade – and contested – as a neoliberal city. The analytic of public is employed as a ‘terrain’, across which neoliberal policies, privatizing practices, calls for redistributive programs, and negotiations for citizenship and the right to the city are negotiated. Examining the fields of service provision, housing, and privatization, it is demonstrated that the analytic of ‘public’ provides an entry into the task of theorizing and locating the post-apartheid project in South African cities such as Cape Town.

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