I have posted the below in the 'anthropology of fishing' group, but I suppose it also fits well in the 'urban anthropology' group. Moreover, with nearly 300 members (as opposed to a mere 11 in the fishing group) I might actually get a reply here : )
Apologies for the length but here it comes:
I'm curious to find out if anybody knows of cases that relate in some way to the research I am currently engaged in.
Firstly let me introduce myself. I am a MA student (BA in cult. anthro) from the Netherlands, registered at CCMS (centre for Communication, Culture, Media & Society - post grad dep. for cultural & media studies) at UKZN, Durban, South Africa. I have been doing fieldwork since April/May 2010, as part of which I use a camera.
I have been working with a group of (rod & line) subsistence fishermen who have been banned from Nov. 2009 to fish off the beachfront piers in Durban. Over the last few years, local fishermen have increasingly been pushed away from strategic fishing sites such as the harbour, the (400m long) harbour mouth called South Pier, some beaches along the north and south coast, and since 2009 the beachfront piers.
I have been focusing on the closing of the beachfront piers, with a particular interest in modes of resistance and acts of representation in the public sphere. Of course, south africa hosted the World Cup and many of the efforts of the fishermen are (to be) seen in the context of this event.
At the same time, the reasons for excluding the fishermen from sites in Durban and Kwazulu Natal can also be easily linked to the world cup. Since Mandela, but especially Mbeki, South Africa has seen the implementation of neo liberal policies, increasing economic opportunities across race barriers. At the same time these policies increased inequalities on a class level. The world cup, and the economic model implemented by FIFA (they made 3,5 billion dollar) fit well in the current aspirations of the rulling class(es).
In order for South Africa to host a 'succesfull' World Cup, according to world class standards, rendering its cities 'world class cities', SA cities had to get rid of elements that were to be associated with the past, with third world standards, etc. Old infrastructure (roads, airports, stadiums, etc) were to be replaced (some say with white elephants), while 'unwanted social elements' such as streettraders, streetchildren, and the 'dirty', and 'dangerous' fishermen were to be removed from the public's eye.
Granted, the fishermen have built up a reputation due to the use of drugs and alcohol by some, at times resulting in conflict and violence on the public space of the beachfront and the piers. The fishermen, hardly a solid or tight community (they come from all over and depend on their catch in differing degrees) have a reputation problem. They/Some have been trying to set things straight by using the media during the world cup, in their plight to the local government to re-open the beachfront piers.
My question is not very specific. I suppose I am just interested whether any of you know of a similar case, or a case that might be of interested in relation to the case of the durban fishermen. It should be clear that it is not about fishing as much as it is about grassroots political action, social movements, subaltern voice, organic leadership (gramsci), etc, etc.
Perhaps there is someone working on a similar case and would be willing to discuss things further?
Well anyway, for the ones that have actually read this far, thanks and lets talk.
ps. 2 links that might be of interest:
A video by pamela ngwenya:
A MA thesis (urban geography if im not mistaken) by Amanda Dray: