Elite space: gated communities and identities in Durban, South Africa

Gated communities are prominent features of the South African urban landscape. As with most communities elsewhere, their presence and form has been explained largely on the basis of a demand for security and fear of the ‘other’.

There is clearly a great deal of truth in this explanation, for a society with high levels of violent crime and a history of racial intolerance.

Our project, however, seems to unpack how residents live within their communities on a daily basis, in particular how they relate the spatial exclusivity of the community to the city, how they understand the architectures of the communities and how governance is negotiated.

Overall, we consider how ‘lifestyle’ becomes a means to talk about class position, ‘race’ and fear, and how material effects are constructed.

The research is based on interviews with residents of communities in North and Outer West Durban, as well as with developers, contract firms and local government officials.

Staff member: Gareth A. Jones, with Richard Ballard, University of KwaZulu Natal

Project period: 2006 to present

Related publications:

  • Jones, G. A., and Ballard, R., ‘Designing difference: aesthetics and lifestyles in Durban’s elite gated communities’, (submitted)
  • Ballard, R., and Jones, G. A. (2010) ‘Natural neighbours: indigenous landscapes and “eco-estates” in Durban, South Africa’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, forthcoming
  • Ballard, R., and Jones, G. A. (2011) ‘Dinámicas de inclusión y exclusión en los procesos contemporáneos de gobernanza urbana en Sudáfrica’, in Bassols, M. and Mendoza, C. (eds.) Gobernanza, Gobernabilidad y Buen Gobierno, UAM-Iztapalapa

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