City of extremes - The spatial politics of Johannesburg by Martin J. Murray
Wits University Press, 2011
Soft Cover, 470 pages
No other city in South Africa bears the scars of white minority rule as obviously and as self-consciously as Johannesburg, the place where the architects of racial segregation were the most deeply invested in implanting their vision of 'separate development' into the material fabric of society. Not surprisingly the city is also the place where this vision of racial exclusivity was the most bitterly contested in the popular struggles that eventually brought white rule to an end. Today, although a new generation of city builders has struggled to reinvent the city so as to reflect an alternative, more equitable politics that answers the basic needs of the urban poor, nevertheless the city remains deeply fractured, divided between two highly unequal and spatially disconnected worlds: one catering to the rich and another for those without regular work, without shelter, and forced to eke out a marginal existence. City of Extremes analyzes the relationship between the evolving urban form of Johannesburg after apartheid and present-day, boosterist, city-building efforts to create a world-class African city. The book shows how property-holding elites and their affluent middle-class allies have been able to maintain privileged life styles despite persistent demands from below for redress of long-standing grievances.