Original Research - Special Collection: Engaging Development

The ‘good city’ or ‘post-colonial catch-basins of violent empire’? A contextual theological appraisal of South Africa’s Integrated Urban Development Framework

Stephan de Beer
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3543 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3543 | © 2016 Stephan de Beer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 June 2016 | Published: 22 November 2016

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Stephan de Beer, Centre for Contextual Ministry, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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The Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) was constructed as a ‘new deal’ for South African cities and towns. It outlines a vision with four overarching goals and eight priorities or policy levers meant to overcome the apartheid legacy through comprehensive spatial restructuring and strategic urban–rural linkages. This article is a contextual theological reflection ‘from below’, reading the IUDF through the lenses of five distinct contours. It asks whether the IUDF has the potential to mediate good cities in which the urban poor and disenfranchised can experience integral liberation as equal citizens, or whether it will perpetuate the city as post-colonial satellite of violent empire. It concludes by proposing five areas for theological and political action: consciousness from below, a new economics, a different kind of politics, socio-spatial transformation, and collaborative knowledge generation.


Integrated Urban Development Framework; good city, violent empire, southern urbanism; right to the city; reclaiming the commons; urban (dis)engagement of church and theology


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