Reference : Wheels for people with disabilities in the post-apartheid city
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Anthropology
Wheels for people with disabilities in the post-apartheid city
Schnitzler, Marie mailto [Université de Brest - UBO > > Laboratoire d'Etudes et de Recherche en Sociologie > >]
In press
Africa Journal
United Kingdom
[en] disability ; transport ; technology
[en] This article focuses on technologies of mobility for people with physical disabilities living in a
South African poor urban setting. It moves away from a perspective that exposes limitations to
underline specific opportunities for people with disabilities to design the city. In the township
of Mitchell’s Plain (Cape Town), known for its violence, defining when and where to use the
chair involves a negotiation of moral and medical norms with a pursuit of security. In this
process, the wheelchair constitutes one element of a larger continuum of wheeled mobility. The
availability of public and private alternative transport enhances already present inequalities
among people with disabilities. Two systems of public transport are further discussed, namely
Dial-a-Ride (a specialized transport) and MyCiTi bus (a mainstream service). Initiatives of the
City of Cape Town, these transports are widely discussed and criticized by people with
disabilities. Through discussion with or opposition to the local government, associations
participate actively in their inclusion in the post-apartheid city. My conclusions, drawn upon
nineteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, call upon the theoretical framework of the
anthropology of material things and the sociology of space.

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