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Protest in South Africa

Rejection, reassertion, reclamation

edited by Heidi Brooks, Rekgotsofetse Chikane, Shauna Mottiar

Popular protest has become a regular feature of post-1994 South Africa. As a young democracy born out of resistance, we may understand the contemporary manifestations of protest as extensions of this broader history. However, it is notably in the context of formal democratic institutions that popular protest has become an increasingly normalised mode of influencing policy, demanding service delivery and forcing change. Protest is constitutive of South Africa's democratic politics, but also reflective of it.

Protest in South Africa: Rejection, reassertion, reclamation explores the underpinnings of contemporary protest and both its short-term causes and structural drivers. Focusing on the surge of protest from the mid-2000s, this edited volume provides an overview of the complexity of protest action, the diversity of protest spaces and actors, and responses to protest from both citizens and state. The volume situates its analysis against the backdrop of the global wave of protest witnessed since the turn of the 21 century, while examining protest in South Africa's local and historical contexts.

Contributors to the volume examine protests in relation to, among other factors, provision of infrastructure and services, contestations around socio-economic development, issues of citizenship, and demands for inclusive democratic governance. Chapters also examine the role of women in protest action, the policing of protest, and the intersection of protest action with spaces of formal politics. The volume also alerts us to the darker side of protest, and the destruction and division it may foment. It thus considers the prospects of South Africa's evolving, sometimes violent, protest terrain for social and state stability and democratic progress.

In the diversity of spaces, sectors and communities of interests in which collective action has emerged, Protest in South Africa: Rejection, reassertion, reclamation shows how protest is underpinned by a rejection of the status quo, a reassertion of interests, and a reclaiming of the political and democratic space.

ISBN 9781920690373 | 402 pages | 234x156mm | 2023 | Mapungubwe Institute (MISTRA), South Africa | Paperback

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