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« A recognised institution » ? Trois générations de commerçants indiens sur Grand Parade, Le Cap (1924-1975)

Abstract : Drawing on the theories of recognition (Honneth, 2000) and on the debate on “quiet encroachment” by A Bayat (1997), this article analyses how 16 Indian families specialising in the sale of produce negotiated, over 3 generations, their right to work on Grand Parade, a public square highly symbolic of Cape Town’s city-centre. Caught up in the tensions of public action that oscillated between the need to supply the city and the need to showcase and plan the city-centre since the 1910s, they resisted the tightening of racial zoning under apartheid and even achieved the status of small local institution. Their short history raises the issueof the citizenship of (relatively well-off) working classes and small entrepreneurs in the segregationist apartheid and colonial urban societies of Cape Town. The municipal archives make it possible to record the daily exchanges between these traders and municipal officials. In this administrative space of interface that records ordinary encounters with the State, we can observe forms of quiet encroachment (Bayat, 1997), oriented towards the daily and concrete reproduction of their economic activity, as well as forms of political mobilization representing a quest for forms of political and social recognition (Honneth, 2000). By engaging in such a dialogue between Asaf Bayat’s socio-geographic analysis and Axel Honneth’s political and moral philosophy, and using a very limited case study, it is possible to analyse how the political demand for recognition is concretely anchored in a set of practical daily interactions with the local Cape Town bureaucracy.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 11:31:26 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 6:51:47 PM

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Marianne Morange, Sophie Didier. « A recognised institution » ? Trois générations de commerçants indiens sur Grand Parade, Le Cap (1924-1975). Annales de géographie, Armand Colin, 2019, N°729-730 (5), pp.62. ⟨10.3917/ag.729.0062⟩. ⟨hal-03293697⟩

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