Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
CHAPTER 4
Landscaping Privilege
Being British in South Africa
PAULINE LEONARD
PrivilegeetchesthelandscapeofSouthAfrica.Racializedadvantageisproducedthrough
multiple social mechanisms of South African life, but it is the materiality of space that
makes their daily operations starkly visible. Exploring such questions as who owns what,
who goes where, how this or that person travels and why, helps to expose the texture
of privilege and its corollaries: inequality and discrimination. In South Africa, the geo-
graphical lens is particularly significant because the management of the spatial has long
been the key means by which racialized positions have been constructed and privilege
secured.Fromtheearlydaysofcolonialism,andparticularlysincetheintroductionofthe
apartheid regime in 1948, whiteness has sought to construct superiority through the es-
tablishment of partitioned and privileged white spaces. However, it is now nearly twenty
years since the post-apartheid government in South Africa came into office with a man-
date of universal democracy and racial equality. It is therefore important to explore the
extent to which the landscape of South Africa, and the position of bodies within it, has
changedinaccordancewiththenewideologicalclimateofegalitarianismandmultiracial-
ism. In short, what does the transition away from apartheid tell us about privilege, its po-
sitions and its possibilities?
Colonial settler elites of Dutch and British immigrants first introduced a racialized
inscription onto the spatial landscape of South Africa in the mid-seventeenth century.
However, it was the system of white minority rule known as apartheid which particularly
consolidated racially exclusive places of work, residence, and leisure as policy (Murray
2011). Indeed, the racial demarcation and management of space was a fundamental tenet
of apartheid, and Johannesburg, one of the nation's largest and most powerful cities, was
aquintessential example ofhowthe urbanenvironment wasusedasaresource tosegreg-
ate people by race and establish white privilege. For most of the twentieth century, land
management philosophy was to eliminate racial diversity and construct racially distinct
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