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CCS Seminar: A Culture of Fearing ‘The Other’: Spatial Segregation in South Africa

Speaker: Henrik Bjorn Valeur
Date: Wednesday 7 November 2018
Time: 13:00-14:00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room A726, Level 7, Shepstone, Howard College, UKZN

Cities can be seen as complex human environments in which people with different backgrounds and aspirations interact, thus creating possibilities for further increasing the complexity of the culture, economy and society. However, counter processes of spatial segregation seem to gather strength across the globe, as people increasingly tend to live in isolated islands of gated compounds, slum areas and other kinds of settlements inhabited by people who share the same ethnicity, socio-economic status, lifestyles, political beliefs etc. The potentially disastrous social consequences of these processes of spatial segregation may be further exacerbated by the proliferation of so-called “social” media and sophisticated systems of surveillance.

South Africa seems like a particularly extreme case of spatial segregation, even 24 years after apartheid. What is it that prevents the formation of a complex society in South African? It would seem that fear and suspicion of “the other” plays a decisive role. But is the only answer to this a further militarization of urban spaces, more fences and barbed wire, more barking dogs and signs of “armed response”?

This seminar will include a brief presentation of cases of spatial segregation in Scandinavia, North America and South Asia, followed by an open discussion about the situation in Durban and the question of how to rid society of a culture of fear?

Speaker Bio:
Henrik Valeur is an independent architect-urbanist: founder and creative director of UiD (Denmark) and UiD Shanghai Co., Ltd (China); co-founder of CoMa – a research project on regional urbanization and multicultural societies and author of the book India: the Urban Transition. He is currently a visiting scholar at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, where he is working on the theory of development urbanism. For more information, see:

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