Flaneur's Diary: Living on the edge

               Wedged between the vernacular and transnational, it is easy to see the divide between the slums and dream worlds of Cape Town, South Africa. Two concepts that have so much meaning in respect to urbanism are the local and global areas that split the city in half. These two battle against each other yet rely on one another paradoxically. The global elites control Cape Town and have exploited the citizens for decades and will likely continue to manipulate them. Sometimes forcing the natives of their homes peacefully or even forcefully and making them look like refugees compared to the high status of the “Elites.”

                Virtually walking through the slum-districts and mainland you could truly see the desperation and unease portrayed through the slum-dwellers. You could feel the tension that was between the two contrasting groups. The slum dwellers were practically living in filth while the corporate elites stand tall in the high-rise buildings making no effort to better the living conditions of the natives. There is an ongoing pattern of global ‘nodal’ points taking root in metropolitan areas, forcing the poor indigenous populations into the periphery of the city.

                According to Emporis Cape Town is transforming into one of the biggest commercial hubs. In the past five years it has become a very popular place for Americans and many others to travel and go on vacation. This has caused it to grow exponentially resulting in global space expanding and local space compressing. One of the newest sky scrapers is also being built in the next year which is supposed to be the tallest building in Cape Town. Ultimately global elites build their skyscrapers and over the ground that has nourished the natives for decades. On the contrary the economic and spatial polarization is not necessarily indicative of a completely separated city. In fact, while the city governs the slum-dwellers, the slum-dwellers penetrate the transnational areas because it is in those areas where global market exchanges occur and where cultural items of meaning and meaningful form are consumed.

                The question is whose city is it? If we are talking about power, prestige and privilege the answer to that is obvious. In terms of culture, history and morality the city belongs to the natives of Cape Town.

Check out my observations as a flaneur in my own city Phoenix, Arizona. Click below.


Flaneur I (swapmeet/mall)

Flaneur II (Master Planned Community)