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Richard Pithouse — In the Forbidden Quarters. Shacks in Durban till the end of apartheid

Durban was built as a colonial city – a node in the system of appropriation in which the lure of the market did, indeed, draw the Western European bourgeois “over the whole surface of the globe.” It remains a colonial city in the sense that neither its land holdings, its spatial layout nor its ruling conception of development – which continues to render the expropriated as both dangerously criminal and childishly backward – have been decolonised. For Aimé Césaire in the confrontation with the brutalization and degradation of the colonial relationship it is essential “to see clearly, to think clearly – that is, dangerously.”

The confluence of the flows of money and people pulled into the vortex of this city were consequent to enclosures in England, India and Southern Africa. “Capitalism”, as Rosa Luxemburg saw so very clearly, “arises and develops historically amidst a non-capitalist society.” And enclosure, as Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker saw so clearly, depends on “systematic violence and terror, organized through the criminal sanction, public searches, the prisons, martial law, capital punishment, banishment, forced labour and colonization.”

But the dispossessed of three continents did not meet in Durban with all holiness profaned and no other relations between man and man than naked self interest. As in Europe men could demand mastery over women. And in Durban, a settler city, the new social relations that were produced as others were torn asunder were also structured around the ongoing invention of race as a system of division and control. There have been eruptions of insurgent and cosmopolitan solidarities among the dispossessed in this city but they have been rare moments of grace. [download full PDF->http://www.commoner.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/r_pithouse_durban.pdf]