Vernacular regeneration: Low-income housing, private policing and urban transformation in inner-city Johannesburg

  • Dr Aidan Mosselson
  • Date of publication: 20 September 2018

Vernacular Regeneration: Low-income housing, private policing and urban transformation in inner-city Johannesburg was written by Dr Aidan Mosselson and published by Routledge in September 2018. Based on his PhD in Social Geography at University College London (UCL), Dr Mosselson wrote the bulk of the book when he was a University of Johannesburg funded post-doctoral fellow at GCRO between early 2016 and late 2017.

Vernacular Regeneration presents a detailed, multi-layered account of the urban regeneration process currently taking place in inner-city Johannesburg. Its main aims are to propose new and alternative ways of reading processes of urban renewal generally and to deepen understandings of the process of urban change taking place in inner-city Johannesburg specifically. It engages with numerous actors involved in urban governance, the development of social and affordable housing and policing and security endeavours. It also presents the everyday experiences of residents living with and affected by processes of reinvestment and urban change.

The book explores the diverse aims, ambitions, conflicts and agendas that frame urban regeneration in Johannesburg and analyses the effects which competing imperatives and often contradictory approaches to urban revitalisation are having on the post-apartheid cityscape. The provision of social and affordable housing and the spread of private security are examined through the lenses of neoliberal urbanism, gentrification, the privatisation of public space and revanchist policing. Evidence from Johannesburg demonstrates that, whilst useful, these concepts need to be re-evaluated and that more nuanced, adaptable and creative understandings and vocabularies need to be developed in their place.

The book combines broad-scale, comparative theorisation with grounded, specific detail. In this way, it seeks to contribute to theoretical and comparative approaches to understanding cities and processes of urban change, and also offers practical insights and experiences which may be of use to practitioners, policy-makers and planning students.


Table of contents:

Chapter 1: Thinking with and through Johannesburg

Chapter 2: An overburdened process: the competing agendas, imperatives and outcomes of inner-city regeneration

Chapter 3: The contradictory praxis of regeneration

Chapter 4: Urban management and security: private policing, atmospheres of control and everyday practices

Chapter 5: Ambiguous experiences of regeneration: spatial capital, agency and living in-between

Chapter 6: The space that regeneration makes: regulation, security and everyday life

Chapter 7: Towards a vernacular theorisation of urban change

The book is available for purchase here.

After his postdoc at GCRO, Dr Mosselson took up an International Fellowship awarded by the Urban Studies Foundation, which supported the finalisation of the book at LSE Cities. Dr Mosselson is currently Newton International Fellow, based at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield.

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