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The origins of Phoenix, 1957-1976 : the Durban City Council and the Indian housing question.

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The period between the nineteen fifties and the seventies in South Africa witnessed the emergence of a central state housing policy incorporating large scale mass housing for Black people in delineated Group Areas based on segregated racial zoning policies originally initiated in Durban. During this period the local state in Durban began to exercise the responsibility assigned to it since 1920 by providing the previously neglected housing for Coloureds and Indians. As a case-study detailing the origins of the Indian township of Phoenix this study explores how power is exercised at the local level. It focuses on local representation and accounts for the growth in bureaucratic power and subsequent decline of the City Council regarding matters of housing in Durban. The study argues that in order to conceptualise the 'local state' and its 'relative autonomy' from the central state it is necessary to analyse local social relations. As such the study focusses on the power relations existing between the City Council and the bureaucracy; the City Council and the Indian community; and the bureaucracy and The Natal Estates Ltd. Data have been drawn from primary sources including municipal records and oral interviews, and from secondary sources which have provided the historical context for the study. The relationship between the City Council and the bureaucracy has been found to have been dominated not only by the technical expertise and resources of the bureaucracy, but also by the intervention of powerful personalities holding senior positions within the bureaucracy. Both the City Council and the bureaucracy proved to have been instrumental in ensuring that opposing demands from the various sectors of the Indian community did not interfere with their plans for housing at Phoenix. In the same manner, the bureaucracy's determination to maintain control over housing and ensure the reproduction of urban labour power led to the cooperation of the local, regional and central state levels, which forced Natal Estates into protracted land negotiations where the Company was finally pressurised into selling under threat of central state expropriation.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1987.


Theses--Sociology., Housing policy--KwaZulu-Natal., Indians--Housing--Durban Metropolitan Area--Phoenix., Phoenix (Durban Metropolitan Area), Housing--Durban Metropolitan Area--Phoenix.