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New Left Review 108, November-December 2017

melissa tandiwe myambo


The Hipsterification of Johannesburg

In 2000, the new City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality announced its goal of becoming ‘an African world-class city’, with increased prosperity and economic growth for all. Subsequent planning documents reiterated the tagline: ‘a world-class city, with service deliverables and efficiencies that meet world best practice’—‘a world-class African city for all’. [1] See iGoli2002 (1999); Joburg 2030 (2002); Growth and Development Strategy (2006). Who defines what ‘world-class’ means? The annual Global Cities report put out by estate agents Knight Frank conflates it with ‘global’, which in turn glorifies cities that prioritize profit-maximization and attracting talented professionals. The ‘global city’ rankings put out by the American management-consultancy firm A. T. Kearney rank urban conglomerates in terms of business activity, human capital, innovation and personal well-being. The key word is competition. ‘The race for global city status is accelerating’, enthuses atk. ‘While European cities prevail today, North American cities show greater potential, especially in innovation. And although top cities in China significantly outperform those in India, competition is tightening.’ [2] A. T. Kearney, Global Cities Index and Emerging Cities Outlook, 2014.

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Melissa Myambo, ‘Africa's Global City?’, NLR 108: £3

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