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I believe urban planning does not end with a plan. It only begins there. 

My dissertation research considers specific tactics of bottom-up accommodation, negotiation, and resistance to apartheid-era spatial planning practice in one former South African "Bantustan" capital city, a non-white receiving site of widespread forced relocation, Mmabatho and today Mahikeng, North West, South Africa. 


My interest is how those relocated residents, those whom we might call the “planned upon,” received colonial and apartheid plans, and how varied resistances produced, fomented, or otherwise reworked master-planning premises. To engage such processes, I draw on institutional analysis and mixed methods including archival research, semi-structured interviews, and a close analytic readings of built sites. From my research, a general lesson applicable to the field of urban planning and processes of urbanization emerges: planning does not end with the plan; it merely begins with the plan.


What emerges from resident responses to colonial, apartheid, and Bantustan-era planning is an amalgam of spatial forms, creative assemblages, and heterogeneous spatial forms. Residents responses to public architecture and planning themselves remain subject to contestation, disruption, repurposing, and innovation. These responses of repurposing stem from healing, but also for both universal and contextually specific demands for human dignity, economic equality, and social justice.

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