Reforming the City School in South Africa: Mapping the History from Apartheid Durban to Post-Apartheid eThekwini

  • Jenni Karlsson
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 19)

As schools age, their sites and built environments become palimpsests imprinted and overprinted with traces, shifts, removals, and additions from each subsequent social era. In cities, the story of an urban formation’s waxing and waning is mirrored in the fortunes of its schools and can be read off their collective histories. Even the peculiar racial, cultural, and economic politics of South African cities, from the colonial period to the post-apartheid present, are inscribed in school built environments, with each school’s location still articulating a history of center-periphery advantage, marginality, and discrimination, despite endeavors to ameliorate the inequalities of the past. This understanding underpins my study of schools in South Africa’s second largest city, Durban, or eThekwini, as it is known in the more widely spoken local language of isiZulu.

The French social theorist, Henri Lefebvre (1991, p. 54) has asserted that “a revolution that does not produce a new space has not realized its full potential.” This implies that the social space of city and school is reworked continually as social relations evolve from what was there before. Lefebvre has also contended that simultaneously urban development constitutes relations of center-periphery tensions that yield social difference and diversity (Lefebvre, 1991, 1996). These propositions about urban formation and social space are the theoretical horizon for this work and frame my exploration of city schools as inseparable from the geo-political history of their locale.


Informal Settlement City School South African City Foundation Stone Girl High School 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenni Karlsson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KwaZulu-NatalDurban

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