Geographies of racial capitalism: the 2021 July riots in South Africa

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1 Citation (Scopus)


In July 2021, riots involving large-scale looting of businesses enveloped parts of South Africa. The “spark” for the violence was the incarceration of the country’s former President, Jacob Zuma. While referring to the broader dynamics of the riots, this article focusses on one township of Durban, Phoenix. Here, the violence was headlined as taking a racial turn, setting African against Indian. By situating the analysis against the African National Congress (ANC) led government’s failure to confront inherited apartheid geographies and racialised forms of capital accumulation, the article foregrounds the explanatory power of racial capitalism, with the understanding that, while “dynamic and changing”, its “temporality … is one of ongoingness … a process not a moment … ”. (12) (Jenkins, D., and J. Leroy. 2021. “Introduction: The Old History of Capitalism.” In Histories of Racial Capitalism, edited by D. Jenkins, and J. Leroy, 1–26. New York: Columbia University Press.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3542-3561
Number of pages20
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • African National Congress
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • Phoenix
  • Riots
  • capital accumulation
  • instigators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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