Start main page content


CUBES is involved in a number of ongoing events - the Faces of the City seminar series and the Southern African City Studies Conference - as well as other ad hoc academic and public conferences and events.

Faces of the City seminars 2018 - Q4

The weekly Faces of the City Seminar Series is hosted in turn by CUBES, NRF Chair in SA&CP, GCRO and Wits City Institute.

On the peripheries of citizenship: protest and public goods in Africa by Marcus Walton, Political Affairs Research Institute

Date: 16 October 2018
Time: 16:00-17:30
Venue: 1st Floor Seminar Room, John Moffat Building, University of the Witwatersrand

Abstract: Protests over public goods (i.e. basic goods provided or subsidized by the state) have been an integral part of African politics in recent decades. While several studies have identified this trend, there has been little consensus on the reasons for these protests. In this article, I use interviews and archival research from three prominent cases to identify protestors’ motives for mobilization over public goods. Using the cases of bread in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, fuel in the 2012 Occupy Nigeria Movement, and housing in the recent service delivery protests in South Africa, I ask: why do people protest over public goods? Against the rational choice, social contract, and moral economy literature, I argue for an understanding of protest motivated by citizenship, or the ‘right to have rights.’     

Biography: Marcus Walton is a post-doctoral fellow at the Political Affairs Research Institute (PARI). He recently defended his PhD dissertation in Political Science entitled, "Resources and Recourses: The Origins of Entitlement in Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa"  from Brown University. Marcus' research focuses on the history and norms of claims-making in several African countries, particularly in regards to public goods and social protection. He will be presenting a paper developed from part of his dissertation, on protests, resources, and popular conceptions of rights.