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Title: Political mobilisation, violence and control in the townships of the Vaal Triangle, South Africa, c.1976-1986
Author: Rueedi, Franziska Leonie
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis in an exploration of political mobilisation and its relation to violence and control in the townships of the Vaal Triangle, South Africa, c.1976 to 1986, with a particular focus on the Vaal Uprising of 1984. It examines the emerging conflict between councillors and local communities and the redrawing of imagined boundaries of community. Councillors were demarcated as a collective group that was perceived to be violating the social contract and were regarded as being obstacles to meaningful political change. The period saw the emergence of a localised discourse around accountability, political legitimacy, transparency, freedom and community. Political subjectivities were influenced by the straddling of everyday experiences of oppression, violence, inequality and poverty on one hand and the impact of ideologies of freedom and liberation on the other. The latter were promoted by the African National Congress in exile, as well as the United Democratic Front, but these organisations did not provide direct leadership. On 3 September 1984 the conflict escalated, sparked by an announcement to increase rent, service tariffs and municipal levies. It led to a large-scale uprising that altered the political and social landscape. It heralded the beginning of the insurrectionary period of the mid-1980s that brought the most sustained challenge to the apartheid regime. The relative success of the uprising in enforcing concessions from local authorities and the departure of councillors from the townships informed subsequent political strategies. The state attempted to win Hearts and Minds with limited reforms but also used heavy-handed repression. Terror began to escalate and state violence further conscientised and radicalised local communities. Youth activists in particular came to believe that the regime could only be overcome if confronted with strategies of political violence. Alleged informers and black policemen came under increasing attack, reflecting a redrawing of boundaries of community and hindering effective policing.
Supervisor: Beinart, William Sponsor: Merton College ; Clarendon Fund ; Faculty of Modern History ; Janggen-Pohn Foundation ; Swiss National Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Africa ; History ; Conflict ; History of Africa ; South Africa ; apartheid ; popular protests ; political violence ; South Africa social conditions 1961-1994 ; resistance to apartheid