Infrastructure, Inequality and the Neo-Apartheid City

Dr Mori Ram, Dr Charlotte Lemanski, and Prof. Haim Yacobi

Funding period: 1 October 2021 – 1 January 2022
Type of funding: Seminar Series

Host institutions: Development Planning Unit, University College London (UK), Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (UK), and School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University (UK)
Dates: October 2021 (London), November 2021 (Cambridge), and December 2021 (Newcastle)
Lead organisers: Dr Mori Ram (Newcastle University), Dr Charlotte Lemanski (University of Cambridge), and Prof. Haim Yacobi (UCL)
Contact: Dr Mori Ram

Abstract: The seminar series “Infrastructure, Inequality and the Neo-Apartheid City” develops a conceptual analysis of an emerging urban regime we identify as the neo-apartheid city. This critical conceptual framework adopts and adapts the conventional platform we use to identify apartheid to the changing urban reality of cities today. We suggest that this urban regime highlights new apparatuses of territorial management, appropriation and colonisation that accentuate the symbiotic relationships between capitalist policies of appropriation and settler colonialism and builds on the existing apartheid mechanisms, mainly via planning and urban governance. As governmental accountabilities are increasingly financed into opportunities for investment, private companies assume municipal responsibilities, and citizenship is overlooked, it is now urgent to address and delineate the contours of neo-apartheid cities. We need a new political language to articulate the conditions, forms, and effect of these regimes of division and the possibilities to challenge them. Our main aim is to address the analytical possibilities of understanding emerging regimes of division through their urban formations, both physically and politically, by concentrating on the role of infrastructure in facilitating political control through socio-spatial division. The series will critically analyse the parameters that shape the development of the neo-apartheid city and explore the contemporary variegated forms of separation and inclusion (legal, governmental, spatial, cultural, social and economic) and how these shape the relationships between national identity and racial categorisation; between political freedoms and physical mobilities; and between political power, private capital and governance.