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CCS Seminar: Everyday Forms of Resistance in Durban

Speaker: Shauna Mottiar
Date: Friday, 1 September 2017
Time: 13h00-14h00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room A726, Level 7, Shepstone, Howard College, UKZN

South Africa has high levels of social protest the insurrectionary nature of which have earned it the label ‘a rebellion of the poor’ (Alexander, 2010). What is not frequently considered however is protest of a less overt nature which occurs along the lines of ‘everyday forms of resistance’ (Scott, 1985). Using James Scott’s perspective on hegemony this paper considers everyday forms of resistance amongst informal traders and shack dwellers in Durban South Africa. Employing qualitative methods based primarily on interviews in two case study sites, the paper finds that everyday resistance takes a number forms including defying city by-laws, resistance through various means and re-connecting illegally to services. The paper also argues that while expressions of everyday resistance among shack dwellers seek ‘de facto’ gains and are used alongside more overt protest actions for formal ‘de jure recognition’ of these gains (Scott, 1989), this is not the case among street traders who prefer to act in the domain of the ‘invisible’. This paper also considers the application of the term ‘weapons of the weak’ to everyday expressions of resistance in Durban revealing a ‘hidden transcript’ (Scott, 1990) of illegal street trading practice and ‘popular illegalities’ (Foucault, 1977) among shack dwellers.

Speaker Bio:
Shauna Mottiar is Director of the Centre for Civil Society. Her research on social protest includes ‘service delivery’ protest in Cato Manor (Wards 30 and 101), Westcliff, Merebank, Kennedy Road and the Umlazi Occupy which have been published in Politikon, Development and Change, Journal of Contemporary African Studies and Democratization.

 Other seminar programmes
 WISER Seminar Series 
 UKZN History Seminar Series 
 The Wolpe Trust 

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