PROPERTY’S SHADOW: Governing Land and Plurality in Durban, South Africa


Property as a legal assemblage works to produce and imagine space according to a dominant set of norms and principles, thereby casting an imagined projection into multiple worlds. This unduly narrows the lens through which governance actors perceive and mediate competing claims to urban space. In this article we engage this feature of property in the context of contestation over urban land in Durban, an intensely plural city of the global South. We focus on three sets of spatial practices that are, in different ways, in tension with municipal governance objectives in Durban to probe how social actors interface with property law through divergent logics and lexicons. We argue that a more hybrid legal conception of property is required to enable just and normatively hybrid governance of these (often competing) claims.