The Centre for Social Sciences Research (CSSR) and the  Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa  (IDCPPA) at the University of Cape Town invite you to join us for a lunchtime seminar on 16 April 2024 at 12:45pm. The seminar will be presented by Julia Hampton.

About the Seminar:

The (Im) Possibility of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone: How Changing Ideas about "The Market" Shaped the State in South Africa, 1940 to 2020

This paper explores how the concept of 'the market' has been variously understood in debates about industrial policy in South Africa, from the 1940s to the late 2010s, tracing how different ideas about the market have come to shape arguments and ideas about the state, its expertise, and its capacities to shape the world. I show that, while there were disagreements, across regimes planners were extremely committed to the idea of the market. Even the most dirigiste of all, apartheid-era research, policies, and planning documents spoke repeatedly about 'markets', 'private industry', and 'private enterprise', and devised manifold ways to International Development at the Oxford Department of International know and seduce these. These ideas mutated from the late 1940s, through the apartheid era, into the present, under a new regime, in a new political economic context. Here an inherited Green optimism about the possibilities of state planning is shot through with ambivalences, about what the market is, and how far it can be controlled. Today, in a new iteration of industrial planning that promotes Special Economic Zones and green technology, ideas and narratives about the market provide a lens onto contemporary officials' grappling with their own senses of curbed possibilities, and ambiguous legitimacy.


Julia is in the third year of a DPhil in International Development at the Oxford Department of International Development. Her thesis combines ethnographic and archival research to account for the planning of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technology on the West Coast. The politics of transition here is shaped by failed interventions to create mass employment in the past, culminating over time in a peculiar set of state institutions, and experts, striving to recruit participation, and sustain legitimacy, amidst unemployment.

 16 April 2024
 12:45 - 14:00 SAST
  CSSR Seminar Room, 4.29 Robert Leslie Social Science Building, UCT

Hosted by the Centre for Social Science Research and the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa