Urban political ecology (UPE) has provided critical insights into the sociomaterial
construction of urban environments, their unequal distribution of resources, and
contestation over power and resources. Most of this work is rooted in Marxist urban
geographical theory, which provides a useful but limited analysis. Such works typically
begin with a historical-materialist theory of power, then examine particular artifacts
and infrastructure to provide a critique of society. We argue that there are multiple ways
of expanding this framing, including through political ecology or wider currents of
Marxism. Here, we demonstrate one possibility: starting from theory and empirics in the
South, specifically, African urbanism. We show how African urbanism can inform UPE and
the associated research methods, theory and practice to create a more situated UPE. We
begin suggesting what a situated UPE might entail: starting with everyday practices,
examining diffuse forms of power, and opening the scope for radical incrementalism.
The practices that have allowed farming to be separated from the city, with the resultant food security concerns, are being globally challenged.
Simultaneously, low levels of employable skills in South Africa are magnifying ...
The area of investigation for this study
falls within a small urban island called
Situated 7km to the West of Johannesburg’s
CBD, it is isolated from the adjacent urban
fabric as a result of its historical ...