New HSRC Publications

CAPITAL CITIES IN AFRICA: POWER AND THE POWERLESS

 

Simon Bekker and Göran Therborn (eds)

Soft cover
264pp
ISBN 978-0-7969-2350-9
Peer-reviewed book
September 2011
Price on publication

Capital cities today remain central to both nations and states. They host centres of political power, not only national, but in some cases regional and global as well, thus offering major avenues to success, wealth and privilege. For these reasons capitals simultaneously become centres of ‘counter-power’, locations of high-stakes struggles between the government and the opposition.

 

This volume focuses on capital cities in nine sub-Saharan African countries, and traces how the power vested in them has evolved through different colonial backgrounds, radically different kinds of regimes after independence, waves of popular protest, explosive population growth and, in most cases, stunted economic development. Starting at the point of national political emancipation, each case study explores the complicated processes of nation-state building through its manifestation in the ‘urban geology’ of the city – its architecture, iconography, layout and political use of urban space. Although the evolution of each of these cities is different, they share a critical demographic feature: an extraordinarily rapid process of urbanisation that is more politically than economically driven. Overwhelmed by the inevitable challenges resulting from this urban sprawl, the governments seated in most of these capital cities are in effect both powerful – wielding power over their populace – and powerless – lacking power to implement their plans and to provide for their inhabitants.

 

In its concentration on urban forms of multi-layered power, symbolic as well as material, Capital Cities in Africa cuts a new path in the rich field of studies related to African cities and politics. It will be of interest to scholars in a wide range of disciplines, from political history, to sociology, to geography, architecture and urban planning.

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FLUID RIGHTS Water allocation reform in South Africa


Synne Movik

Soft cover
240pp
ISBN 978-0-7969-2353-0
Peer-reviewed book
August 2011
Price on publication

This book gets to grips with the complexities of policy change in South Africa, asking how evolving doctrines and policies shape the way water use rights are conceptualised and governed. It offers an historical overview of the evolution of water resources policy and legislation, before going on to explore in depth the process of formulating the Water Allocation Reform policy.

 

This is then contrasted with an ‘on-the-ground’ case study that brings into relief the dynamics occurring at the policy level.

 

The book offers a new perspective that emphasises the discursive construction of rights – how different principles are privileged in diverging discourses around scarcity, equity, efficiency and sustainability, and how such ‘allocation discourses’ are transformed at the local level by new processes of politics and power. The book sets these processes within the wider context of political and economic change in South Africa, and draws lessons for the broader experience of water policy and legislation in an international context.

 

The book is aimed at researchers, policymakers and practitioners, and a broader international readership interested in water policy and development.

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