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Instagrammers, Urban Renewal and the Johannesburg Inner City

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Abstract

Urban renewal and its impact on inner city areas globally has been the subject of sustained investigation. Yet, research into the process of urban renewal in the global South remains under-investigated. This paper attempts to address this paucity in research by looking at the inner city of Johannesburg. The Johannesburg inner city has undergone numerous changes throughout its history, from being built-up to the economic centre of Africa, decentralisation and ultimately undergoing sociodemographic changes during and after the fall of apartheid. Some would argue that the inner city has fallen into a deteriorated state and is a ‘no-go’ zone, especially for middle-class suburbanites. Going hand-in-hand with the meteoric rise of social media, urban renewal initiatives implemented by the private and public sphere in many cities in South Africa have now gained momentum. This is especially the case in the inner city of Johannesburg where mostly white suburban youth, often part of the creative class, now access the inner city regularly through InstaMeets. However, this process is a double-edged sword. It is argued that while there are tangible benefits to renewed access to the inner city, in some cases, it can be considered voyeuristic and lead to displacement of residents with vulnerable livelihoods if not managed correctly.

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Correspondence to Gijsbert Hoogendoorn.

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Hoogendoorn, G., Gregory, J. Instagrammers, Urban Renewal and the Johannesburg Inner City. Urban Forum 27, 399–414 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-016-9287-7

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