Date(s) - Mon - 18 Jun
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Dear friends of the UFC,
Please join the Richard Ballard’s Seminar presentation entitled, ‘Transnational Urbanism Interrupted: Chinese investors seeking approval to build the ‘New York of Africa’ at Modderfontein, Johannesburg’, Hosted by DUT’s Urban Futures Centre.
PRESENTER: Richard Ballard, Research Specialist, Gauteng City-Region Observatory, University of Johannesburg and University of the Witwatersrand
TOPIC: ‘Transnational Urbanism Interrupted: Chinese investors seeking approval to build the ‘New York of Africa’ at Modderfontein, Johannesburg’
DATE: Monday, 18th June 2018
VENUE: Steve Biko Campus – DUT, UFC offices, S2 Block, Level 4, Room DP4.01B (UFC Common Room). Entrance Gate 1 & 2. 79 Steve Biko Road
This article examines the failed attempt by the Hong Kong-Listed Shanghai Zendai to enter the South African property market with a multi-decade mixed-use project of around 60,000 residential units and 1.5 million square meters of office space. In particular we track the developer’s efforts to gain approval for a master plan during the course of 2015. Despite the developer contracting British and South African consultants to exert sophisticated soft power in negotiating the deal, regulatory authorities did not immediately approve the masterplan over concerns that the proposed project would be too exclusive and not well integrated into the rest of the city. The project eventually collapsed as a result of delays in approval, inadequate finance, and a less dynamic market than the developer hoped for. We use this case to interrogate the nature and implications of transnational urbanisation. The case illustrates the way in which global investors sometimes fail to assert their will over distant contexts and that actors in these contexts can have agency with significant consequences. Furthermore we argue that the meaning of transnational urbanism should not be reduced to a developer’s investment in another country, but the also the circulation of finance, professionals and information within a broader assemblage of institutions and actors enlisted in the project. Finally the case shows that even developers who have travelled across borders can in some ways be ‘local’, insofar as they take on personnel and even the rhetoric from the host context. (Paper written with Phil Harrison, although he will not be at the presentation)
Richard Ballard, Research Specialist, Gauteng City-Region Observatory, University of Johannesburg and University of the Witwatersrand. Richard Ballard is trained in the field of geography, having completed an Honours Degree in Geography at the University of Natal in 1994 and a PHD in Geography at the University of Wales, Swansea, in 2002. His research has followed two broad themes. The first is the way in which white people have reacted to desegregation as experienced in post-apartheid cities. This includes reactions to street traders, shack dwellers, desegregating suburbs, and an analysis of gated communities. The second is the way in which government and the public interact in the context of poverty and joblessness, with a particular interest in social movements, participatory mechanisms, the role of ward and PR councillors, and social policy mechanisms such as cash transfers. His research at GCRO includes urban mixing and new large scale private developments.
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