Water, food and climate commoning in South African cities: Contradictions and prospects

Patrick Bond, Mary Galvin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Social change has occurred unevenly in South Africa, with adverse implications for the strategy of ‘commoning.’ This chapter focuses on urban commoning in South African cities as both a survival strategy and potential eco-socialist project. It examines the background to the commoning of water, food and climate adaptation. Since its origin in the 1920s, the anti-apartheid movement’s strengths have always been linked with explicitly urban social and labour collectivities. Challenge to constructing a genuine ‘Right to the City’ is the persistently localistic focus of most urban activists. The neoliberal era is characterized by the ‘movement’ of capital into every form of life. In reaction, a ‘double-movement’ – as Karl Polanyi termed such resistance – can be identified in several sectors that were especially important in South Africa’s cities. From water, food and livelihood, the notion of commoning and the paradigm of the commons could also be utilized to reinforce and define the ongoing struggles for climate change adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Food as a Commons
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781351665520
ISBN (Print)9781315161495
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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