Engagement and reconstruction in critical research: negotiating urban practice, policy and theory in South Africa

Sophie Oldfield, Susan Parnell, Alan Mabin
Social & Cultural Geography, 2004

In this paper we examine critical engagement in research in order to rethink and reconfigure binaries such as theorizer and practitioner and theory and practice across South and North. We argue that while we welcome the ‘moral geographies’ literature (and its ideas about ‘caring at a distance’) as a catalyst for forging more beneficial connections between South and North, we suggest this is not enough. Drawing on South African experiences of critical academic engagement in issues of urban geography, we examine moments for innovative knowledge construction that bridge theory and practice. These experiences are used to substantiate a normative argument for ‘inclusive geographies’through critical engagement in order to break down boundaries between, for instance, theorizers and practitioners, intellectuals and activists, and South and North.

Keywords:
urban, politics of knowledge, participation, activism, reconstruction, South Africa

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