Delivery as Dispossession
Land Occupation and Eviction in the Postapartheid City
Reviews and Awards
"Impressively clear and compelling....Levenson demonstrates the classic sociological combination of ethnographic rigor and theoretical innovation. This is ethnography at its best." - Social Forces
"The book's narrative account of the events he examined is powerful, the research is vigorous and rigorous, and his findings are important and generalizable, all of which testifies to the utility of the theoretical tools he used to conduct this study. Overall, Levenson's argument is cogent, nuanced, and well-supported by his evidence. He also does impressively well at threading the needle of generalizing about the significance of his research findings and specifying the particularity of the people and events he engaged in a concrete time and place." - Journal of Labor and Society
"This pathbreaking study of the contrasting dynamics of self-organization in two Cape squatter communities opens exciting new windows in social theory. Levenson, in a close re-reading of Gramsci, challenges simplistic dichotomies between 'civil society' and the state, focusing instead on the dialectics of their interaction in collective struggles for housing rights. Post-apartheid South Africa formally recognizes the right to decent shelter but has failed to deliver on the promise of massive new home construction for Apartheid's victims. In the resulting environment of acute scarcity, informal settlements compete with another to articulate their demands within political space-a competition in which a crucial resource for success is the ability of squatters to achieve organic unity as 'fused groups." -Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums "
"Critically departing from the prevailing perspectives on land occupation and eviction in South Africa—such as visibility, gentrification, and public-private property type—Levenson offers a fresh and powerful outlook by bringing the state and civil society into an integral explanatory frame. He shows that the dynamics of land occupation and eviction is shaped by how the poor and the state view each other's practices. This is a lucid and engaging book informed by extensive on-the-ground research." - Asef Bayat, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
"A beautifully written book about a heart-wrenching social problem: how can the ANC government, whose legitimacy rests on its promise to provide housing for all, use the logic of 'legitimate government' to regularly dispossess its citizens? This rigorously researched ethnography provides a rare glimpse into the logic of evictions in post-Apartheid South Africa. The text provides a kaleidoscopic view into the problem by showing us not only how government actors see residents but also how residents see the state. Thus, we get a rare glimpse into the way in which dispossessed communities frame and advance their claims, how these claims are seen and understood, and the complex interplay of factors that determine which communities successfully defend their rights and which the state feels authorized to deny. This highly readable and tightly argued book is a 'must read' for ethnographers and social theorists alike." -Zine Magubane, Professor of Sociology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill MA"