In this article I examine people’s sense of place and belonging in Kenneth Gardens, a subsidised rental estate in Durban, South Africa. Kenneth Gardens is one of a dwindling number of state-subsidised rental units inherited from the apartheid regime. I offer a background context to the estate itself, as well as a broader discussion of state-delivered housing here, and elsewhere. The provision of state housing comes with many assumptions about how housing units will benefit residents and tenants. But, as will be examined in this article, there are both expected and unexpected consequences of living in state-delivered housing. Housing developments are shaped by the people who live in them in unpredictable ways, just as people’s sense of belonging, locally and within the broader society, are shaped by living in these units. I explore this process of how people make place identities through drawing on three years of oral histories data and fieldwork in Kenneth Gardens. In this article I argue that various models of state housing should be locations for investigating not only what it means to make a place a home, but how these built forms shape ideas of self, neighbourhoods and broader social belonging. This research aims to contribute towards a patchwork of residents’ narratives and experiences of state-delivered housing. Research of this kind assists in understanding how housing shapes the social landscape of South Africa far beyond the built form of the units themselves.


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pp. 68-90
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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