Seminar: Places of Resistance and Quiescence


Video duration: 
1 h 9 min.

This seminar will explore the evolution of the ANC and other popular movements (including the Communist Party of South Africa) from the first major bus boycott in Alexandra Township and the formation of the ANC Youth League in 1943/44 until the final (successful) bus boycott in the same township in 1957. It will offer an analysis of the production and dissolution of contentious spaces and how these processes shaped resistance politics in this period. One of the main arguments is that by inserting places of the urban poor – locations, peri-urban squatter camps, freehold townships and ‘model’ townships – more centrally into analyses of resistance, it is possible to develop a more nuanced understanding of the character and rhythms of resistance politics than emerge in conventional interpretations that concentrate on the political parties.

It is suggested that the form and character of resistance politics were completely transformed in this period and that, in the process, important ideological shifts occurred and new templates of protest politics and repertoires of struggle were established that shaped the subsequent struggle against apartheid. In addition, it is argued that the apartheid state’s massive programme of urban restructuring, one salient dimension of which was the destruction of so-called ‘black spots’ or spaces designated as troublesome and their replacement with ‘model’ townships, had a much greater impact on local resistance politics than has previously been acknowledged.



Date, time and location

16 February 2012