Utopia and dystopia in the post-apartheid city: the praxis of the future in Cape Town

Christian Ernsten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


This essay is concerned with the shaping, the framing and the fashion- ing of the discourse on urban futures in Cape Town, South Africa. I outline the multiple sources and diverse elements that feed into this discourse: specifically, metropolitan theory and local experience. Focusing on the praxis of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, I argue that there is a convergence between the language of crisis and the vision that comes across in policy and futurist scenariobuilding. I point at apartheid modernities and their recapitulation in utopian dreams for the post-apartheid city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-302
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Dynamics-a Journal of the Centre for African Studies University of Cape Town
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Utopia
  • crisis
  • urban futures
  • abstract space
  • broken city

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