DEMEESTERE Rodolphe

Member of the Centre Européen de Sociologie et de Science Politique" (CESSP) - Paris, France

Member of the Practices of the State in Urban Governance research group (PSUG), University of the Witwatersrand - Johannesburg, South Africa

Fellow at the "Institut Convergences Migration" (IC Migrations) - Paris, France

Thèse

My PhD thesis explores the reform of the township economy in contemporary South Africa, taking spaza shops (street-corner shops) as a research object. The spaza shops’ sector, a prominent pillar of the township economy, has gone through radical changes since the beginning of the 2000’s when African migrants - mainly refugees - started entering the market. As these foreign entrepreneurs gradually became the most prominent actors in the spaza economy, a massive popular contestation gradually grew in the townships and foreign spaza shopkeepers ended up being at the core of recurring xenophobic violence. Following a first widespread episode of xenophobic attacks in May 2008, powerful an politically organized local businessmen started imposing variety of micro- localized rules in the townships to oust foreign entrepreneurs while simultaneously lobbying national governments to intervene in favor of local traders. The national government hastily intervened. Far from proposing a structured and coordinated plan to smoothly develop the township economy, its intervention gave increasing regulatory power to so-called “accredited community-based organisations" on the one hand, and openly aimed at economically excluding foreign traders on the other. Exploring the socio-political genesis of such a reform, my thesis also aims at both questioning its role in (re)producing xenophobic violence in the urban margins and nurturing old and new forms of violent political entrepreneurship in contemporary South African urban margins .

Publications

Rodolphe Demeestère, "’Même si tu as tes papiers, ils t’embarquent’. Gestion policière de l’immigration ou institutionalisation de la xénophobie dans l’Afrique du Sud post-apartheid”, Politique Africaine, n°142, Juin 2016.