A spatial turn has occurred in various disciplines over the past decades. This article holds that it
has not occurred in a similar decisive manner in theological discourse and not in South Africa in
particular. After considering the necessity of a spatial turn and spatial consciousness, the article
examines the concept of spatial justice against the backdrop of how injustice was and is spatially
expressed in South African cities. Considering the way in which South African cities have evolved
since the Native Land Act of 1913 – the segregated and apartheid city and the (post)apartheid city –
the article then argues that deep and sustained reconciliation will be impossible should current
spatial patterns of segregation, exclusion and injustice continue. It advocates theological and
ecclesial participation in a national agenda for spatial transformation, to be fleshed out in relation
to four interconnected challenges: land, landlessness, housing and home; the ‘creative destruction’
of neighbourhoods, gentrification and the displacement of the poor; participation in city-making
(from below) and transformative spatial interventions; and close collaboration with social
movements working for spatial justice. It concludes by asserting that such a trans- and/or postdisciplinary
agenda for spatial justice would participate with the Spirit to mend the oikos of God.
This article is part of the Special Collection titled ‘Spatial Justice and Reconciliation’, sub-edited by Stephan de Beer, of the Department of Practical Theology and the Centre for Contextual Ministry, University of Pretoria.
I developed this article as part of a research focus in the
Centre for Contextual Ministry that engages issues related to
social justice and reconciliation. In September of 2015 we
hosted a Consultation entitled Spatial Justice and Reconciliation
and this article reflects the theological challenge that arose
from this Consultation.