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Re-translating nature in post-apartheid Cape Town: The material semiotics of people and plants at Bottom Road

Publication Date: 2013

This paper uses actor-network theory (ANT) to study a grassroots’ ecological rehabilitation project in a marginalized area of Cape Town. By tracing the stabilization of relations between residents, authorities, plants and green areas, the paper demonstrates how ANT can be enfolded into the study of African cities as an attentive way to rethink agency, empowerment and collective action. It also shows how ANT allows for the study of epistemological and ontological politics inherent to all collective action—here demonstrating how plants participated in giving voice to memories of oppression while undermining expert-based practices that separate Nature and Culture.

This paper can be viewed or downloaded here.