Rapid urbanisation has led to a profound, if under examined, shift in the eThekwini Municipality. In some parts of the municipality’s peri-urban areas, a novel trend of new imposing stylish homes can be seen along some of the roads. While policy and academic interest in peri-urban areas has been driven by concern for the urban poor, we see quite the opposite in some areas wherein wealthier residents are acquiring land in peri-urban areas in an unprecedented fashion. Yet, as many scholars have noted, the contentious and sensitive processes of land acquisition in South African cities are driven by complex racial and socio-economic histories of differentiated access. In some parts of eThekwini, acquisition, ownership, and disposal of land is shaped by such histories and the complex duality of traditional and western systems of land governance. In this paper we examine this recent outward shift of predominantly black middle class residents who ‘purchase’ land in peri-urban areas. Not much is known about these new land transactions. Who are these residents? Why here, why now? Do these transactions constitute a veritable market and if so who are the key players in it? How do actors negotiate the complex duality of traditional and municipal systems of land management? How do we think analytically about these new processes? Using insights from assemblage literature, we place these trends firmly in the context of the meta-arrangements of apartheid and white supremacist culture that continue to shape the lived experience of black people in South Africa.


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pp. 1-36
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