Public Space and the Legacy of Racism in Johannesburg
Today's New York Times has an interesting article about the difficulties getting a bus system set up in Johannesburg. Much of the city's poorer black population lives in the outer suburbs of the sprawling metropolis and for decades has had to rely on private minibus taxis to get them to jobs in the city center and wealthy close-in neighborhoods. The 2010 World Cup was supposed to finally bring reliable bus service from Soweto to Sandton, but lingering racism and "not in my backyard" activism by wealthy suburbanites has complicated things. The article mentions a number of geographical curiosities about Johannesburg, such as how a wasteland of mine dumps, factories, and vacant land still separates black from white neighborhoods. Duke Press recently published Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis, a collection of essays about the teeming megacity and this coming fall we'll publish a new book that specifically addresses how the lingering effects of Apartheid continue to shape the city's geography. Look for City of Extremes: The Spatial Politics of Johannesburg by Martin J. Murray next December. And for more general background on the spread of megacities in the Global South, check out the collection edited by Andreas Huyssen, Other Cities, Other Worlds: Urban Imaginaries in a Globalizing Age and AbdouMaliq Simone's For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities.