chapter  14
19 Pages

Street renaming, symbolic capital, and resistance in Durban, South Africa

ByJames Duminy

This chapter examines the case of street renaming in Durban with a critical analytical perspective of place naming as "text", "arena", and "performance". Street renaming in post-apartheid Durban must be seen within the city's wider history of enforced race-based segregation and post-apartheid symbolic transformation. Local government interest in renaming the streets of Durban proceeded the turn of twenty-first century, when the municipal council devised a policy framework for the necessary participatory and administrative procedures to be followed. The names of most of Durban's central and suburban roadways reflect an obvious bias towards the city's British colonial history. The chapter focuses on the discursive practices of certain key actors and delegates of the African National Congress (ANC), the municipal government, or both, as they confronted, named, and attempted to discredit their opponents. Since the late-1990s, transformation—understood as a progressive and entirely morally justifiable process with a resolute teleological structure—has emerged as a central ideological theme and discursive strategy of the ANC.