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From liberation to liberalization: Newtown, the Market Theatre, and Johannesburg's relics of meaning

Charlton, Ed (2015) From liberation to liberalization: Newtown, the Market Theatre, and Johannesburg's relics of meaning. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 17 (6). pp. 826-838. ISSN 1369-801x

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Identification Number: 10.1080/1369801X.2014.998263


Under colonial and then apartheid rule, Johannesburg has long endeavoured to deny the traces of its own geopolitical development. Promoting itself as the ‘ultimate city of the present’ (Palestrant 1986, 7), incessant cycles of urban renewal have ensured it has always boasted the latest in western metropolitan design, all the while dismissing any concern for the conservation of its past. The district of Newtown, situated in a liminal space on the margin of the city, offers an unlikely exception to this rule. Tracing its deterioration as much as its development, this essay begins by making example of the district as a vital contest to Johannesburg's governing logic. It draws out a critical link between its spatial decay, its history of political dissent and the accomplishments of the Market Theatre, established in the district in 1976. With Newtown's renovation in 2001 as part of Johannesburg's rebranding as a world city, however, the district has come under threat from increasingly globalized forces. Making example of the Market Theatre's recent revival of Woza Albert!, staged originally in 1981, the essay concludes by assessing the perilous impact of these recent developments on Newtown as a space of heterodoxy on the margins of the metropolis.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: LSE Cities
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Sets: Research centres and groups > LSE Cities (Cities Programme)
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 14:33
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 05:52

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