Lecture 3. The Colonial City: Displacement and Migration in Apartheid Johannesburg

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Elisa Dainese

from the module:

The African City

In looking at Johannesburg, South Africa, this lecture introduces three different waves of people migrating to and within the city from the gold boom of the 1880s to present time. This will allow us to discuss the topics of labor control, forced migration and displacement, focusing on the places of resistance to apartheid. In the first part of the lecture, we will discuss the process of colonization, soil exploitation and the scramble for resources in the Transvaal colony (and later province). We will investigate the movement of migration of seasonal laborers working in the mining sector and the subsequent development of the architecture of the compound system. In the second part of the lecture, we will connect the concepts of colonization, modernization, and “sanitation syndrome” as developed in the British colonies. We will focus on the forced and periodical movement of displaced people to the township of Sophiatown, the camp of Moroka, and the matchbox-houses of Soweto. The lecture concludes with the investigation of a more contemporary phenomenon of people migration: the post-apartheid wave of foreign laborers moving to Johannesburg from other African countries.

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