Democracy and the city

Karin van Marle (University of the Free State)

The more than two decades after the shift from parliamentary sovereignty to constitutional supremacy in South Africa have seen many engagements with literature, film, music and other symbols and forms in an attempt to make sense of the paradox of change and stability; transformation; and endurance. These engagements have been described for example in terms of an “aesthetic turn” (Le Roux) and an “aesthetic mode of coping” (Du Plessis, Van Marle). Constitutional discourse has relied amongst others on the notions of the bridge, the book, the monument and the memorial in attempts to unearth new and alternative ways to think about, to talk about and to theorise the multiple facets of the struggle to transform. I want to reflect on the value of these tropes as well as the idea of “city life” as the “being together of strangers” (Young) for constitutional democracy.