The politics and pathology of place: student protests, collective consumption and the right to the city in East London

SOURCE: Anchored in place: rethinking higher education and development in South Africa
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2018
TITLE AUTHOR(S): L.Bank, M.Paterson
SOURCE EDITOR(S): L.Bank, N.Cloete, F.van Schalkwyk
KEYWORDS: EAST LONDON, POLITICS, PROTEST, UNIVERSITIES
DEPARTMENT: Economic Perfomance and Development (EPD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10620

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Abstract

This chapter considers the student protests in East London in the context of their struggle for a right to the city. It reflects on the conditions under which students have been incorporated into the city and the accommodation crisis that has been brewing in the two inner-city suburbs, Quigney and Southernwood, where students have taken up residence in large numbers over the past decade. The chapter considers these protests as a struggle over collective consumption that has emerged in a context of inner-city degeneration, which neither the universities nor the state has been prepared, or able, to address. By taking to the streets to protest rather than staying at their campus sites, students from a number of campuses were able to present themselves as a unified front, based on their shared experiences and asserted expectations of a form of urban citizenship that the city and the universities refused to acknowledge. Their protests targeted what they perceived as a crisis of social reproduction of student life and, by extension, their capacity to achieve the qualifications they needed for future upward social mobility and economic opportunity. In reflecting on these issues, the chapter presents findings from a set of student surveys undertaken by the Fort Hare Institute of Social and Economic Research shortly after the October 2015 protests.