Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Diplomacy and International Relations

First Advisor

Bruce Dayton, PhD


Once the apartheid system in South Africa ended in the early 1990s, spatial planning in Cape Town needed to be reassessed to address its historically-racialized use. Led by city planners, this assessment resulted in the 1996 Municipal Spatial Development Framework (MSDF) Technical Report. Yet, there ended up being a disconnect between planning and implementation, and by the late 2000s, economic growth and development had largely remained in the historically-white areas of the city. Meanwhile, historically-Black neighborhoods and communities of color remained systemically neglected. In 2012, a new MSDF was approved to address the shortcomings of these efforts. While some integration has occurred, Cape Town remains a severely spatially and economically unequal city almost ten years later. Therefore, through a critical theory approach, this study seeks to interrogate the disconnect between practice and implementation in the 2012 MSDF, and asks the following question: Despite efforts to reduce spatial inequalities in the city post-apartheid through the MSDF, does the institutional state of urban planning in Cape Town today harbor neocolonial qualities? Through historical analysis and interviews with urban policy researchers and city officials, this study connects practice to theory to understand how urban planning functions through the MSDF in Cape Town today.


Political Theory | Urban Studies and Planning