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Occupation against Occupation: Space and Anticolonial Resistance



“The colonial world,” Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, “is a world divided into compartments … a world cut in two.” Mapping the geographic rationality of colonial domination allows us, Fanon insists, to “mark out the lines on which a decolonized society will be organized.” In this article, I sketch either side of the dialectic to which Fanon gestures–the spatial logic of colonial power, and the spatial logic of anticolonial protest. My analysis focuses on apartheid South Africa, a context wherein the spatial rationality of colonial power was rendered with a particular clarity. Working toward a thematic of anticolonial occupation, I highlight three unique but imbricated sites of resistance: settlement, transportation, and urbanity. From the particular example of antiapartheid resistance, I argue, we can begin to develop a spatial theory of anticolonial struggle that might be brought to bear upon the neoliberal present.

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