A mid-sized South African city’s struggle against its legacies of environmental injustice.
In the coming decades, the bulk of Africa's anticipated urban population growth will take place in smaller cities. Failure to manage environmental and public health problems in one such aspiring city, Edendale, has fostered severe pollution, seemingly intractable poverty, and gender inequalities that directly fuel one of the worst HIV/AIDS pandemics in the world.
A nuanced and timely presentation of South African responses to changing times, conditions, opportunities, and state interventions, Welcome to Greater Edendale reconstructs nearly two centuries of contestation over land, governance, human rights, identity, housing, sanitation, public health, and the meaning of development. Bringing gender and health issues to the foreground, Marc Epprecht reveals many unexpected or forgotten triumphs against environmental injustice, but also unsettling continuities between colonial, apartheid, and post-apartheid policies to spur economic growth. Sheltered from the glare of national media and often overlooked by scholars, smaller cities like Edendale attract political patronage, corruption, and violent protests, while rapid climate change promises to further strain their infrastructure, social services, and public health.
A challenging, innovative, and thoughtful examination of the history and politics of South Africa, Welcome to Greater Edendale questions the common assumptions embedded in environmental policy, gender relations, democracy, and the neoliberal model of development in which so many African cities are ensnared.