Legacies, Change and Transformation in the Post‐Apartheid City: Towards an Urban Sociological Cartography


The post‐apartheid city represents an important test case for assessing how the spatial dimensions of social inequality shape the dynamics of urban transformation. Most analyses of urban segregation have focused on race or class as key drivers of mobility or maintenance, for instance in the classic spatial assimilation versus place stratification debate. Yet the mechanisms of segregation and mixing play themselves out differently according to urban spatial structure. We use the case of Durban, South Africa, to show that the spatial legacies of apartheid are powerful, and much of the city has undergone little change since apartheid. Through a spatial analysis at the neighbourhood level, we also find that even in the short time between 1996 and 2001 a significant number of neighbourhoods experienced measurable shifts in their racial and socio‐economic composition. We develop what we call a sociological cartography of the city, which shows how race, class and space have combined to generate three distinct but interconnected types of stasis and transformation: the racialized city, the class‐stratified city and the transformed city. The racialized city is the most direct legacy of apartheid spatial development, encompassing neighbourhoods composed of essentially a single race group. In the class‐stratified city, multiple race groups of similar class status are represented. Finally, the transformed city represents new configurations that cut across both race and class divisions of the apartheid city.