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The politics of the privatisation of public space :|bthe subsistence fishers of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

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In today’s globalised world, countries including South Africa, are pursuing neoliberal economic policies which have many negative effects on ordinary citizens. One such effect is the privatisation of public space which is an important resource for all citizens. This thesis sets out to examine the privatisation of public space along the Durban coast and the subsequent loss of fishing sites for local subsistence fishers. The thesis draws on literature that is critical of contemporary processes of neoliberal governance. The research approach is a qualitative approach where data collection is predominantly through oral evidence. In-depth interviews were conducted with fishers and other stakeholders. Participatory observation was also used to gather data through the attendance of meetings, protests and workshops that pertain to the fishers. The thesis shows how these fishers are being excluded from using public resources along the coast and thereby prevented from making a living. Most of the spaces that have been privatised are being transformed into upmarket developments or used to further trade through the expansion of the Durban Harbour. In addition, the thesis reveals that the fishers are losing a way of life, and experiencing a loss of identity and a communal subsistence economy. The fishers have become ‘invisible’ to the state, and to the authorities. Current marine legislation does not recognise this group of fishers as subsistence fishers. In response, the fishers have established the KwaZulu-Natal Subsistence Fishermen’s Forum in order to mobilise against the broader processes of exclusion and marginalisation resulting from neoliberal pro-growth development policies. Their strategies include protest, deliberation with the state, and striking alliances with other social movements in a broader process of anti-globalisation struggle.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2009.


Subsistence fishing--KwaZulu-Natal--Durban., Public spaces--KwaZulu-Natal--Durban., City planning--KwaZulu-Natal--Durban., Theses--Environmental science.