‘If I Had My House, I’d Feel Free’: Housing and the (Re)Productions of Citizenship in Cape Town, South Africa
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMillstein M. ‘If I Had My House, I’d Feel Free’: Housing and the (Re)Productions of Citizenship in Cape Town, South Africa. Urban Forum. 2020;31:289-309 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-020-09397-2
While urban divisions are commonly emphasized in urban studies, there has been less emphasis on reproductions and contestations of divides within marginal urban spaces. This paper explores the dynamics of juxtaposed differences related to housing and urban citizenship in Delft, Cape Town. Delft is a microcosm of thirty years of official housing interventions in post-apartheid South Africa. It is also a space in which differences of urban formality and informality and of permanence and temporariness co-exist, and where housing is at the centre of community politics. This is driven by residents’ perceptions, interpretations and negotiations of differentiated housing rights and opportunities, residential categories and identities and notions of belonging. A particular manifestation of juxtaposed material and temporal differences in housing infrastructure is the construction of temporary relocation areas (TRAs). The multifaceted challenges with the TRAs in Delft illustrate the political nature of housing infrastructure as reported by (Lemanski 2019a, b) and how citizen-making is shaped in and through articulations of formality and informality, and of permanence and temporariness. This informs a politics of citizenship where the precariousness of permanent temporariness as reported by (Yiftachel 2009) for those living in the TRAs is set against those whose right to secure housing is realized, giving them recognition and permanence as ‘proper’ citizens. These dynamics may simultaneously inform rights-based claims to citizenship through collective struggles and individual actions, and localized forms of exclusion from the project of citizenship.