AbstractsPolitical Science

Fostering new spaces: Celebrating and growing a diverse economy in Cape Town, South Africa

by Emma Noëlle Hosking

Institution: Victoria University of Wellington
Year: 2015
Keywords: Diverse economies; Non-conventional development; Place; Politics
Record ID: 1309644
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10063/4261


This thesis explores and celebrates diverse understandings and experiences of the economy through the narratives of four people working in Cape Town, South Africa. The diversity and multiplicity of the economy has been made invisible by a capitalocentric economic discourse which casts alternative ways of being as uncredible and weak. Thus, from a post-development/community economy perspective, I seek to foster a space in which non-conventional economic and political practices are seen as relevant and valid sites for action, where hope for a better future can be enabled. Living in the segregated city of Cape Town, I began to question the polemic framing of the country‟s “two economies”, a framing which disregards the actions of ordinary people who are improving the well-being of their communities directly, in favour of neoliberal pro-growth strategies. Therefore, I interrogate the binaries used to describe the economy and scale of action so as reimagine other possible trajectories for transformation. In so doing, I trace some of the relational connections that the participants articulated and employed on a daily basis so as to foster a sense of place beyond dualistic notions of scale and politics. I also contend that if we are to appreciate the community economy as a significant and persistent site of struggle, there is a need to understand politics as happening beyond the horizon of direct mobilisation. Through these reframings I work to reinsert the experiences and perspectives of spatially and economically marginalised people and places into implications in broader issues. I approach this research from a post-structural, feminist stance, not only to deconstruct the supposed dominance of the capitalist economy, but also to contribute to a project of growing a diverse economic discourse and enabling people to occupy this terrain and reclaim their agency. Hence, using ethnographic and visual collaborative methodologies I aim to promote and value the agency and autonomy of ordinary people who are performing, dreaming, enacting, connecting and enabling a broad horizon of opportunities in hybrid, multi-scalar ways. Therefore, alongside its conceptual contribution of enabling other economic possibilities, I hope that this thesis adds to a conversation about the need for methodologies to be realised as part of a broader movement towards transformation and change.