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With the diversity of non-state governance actors in the urban Global South, detailed insights are needed into various categories of actors at the local scale. This paper concentrates on community leadership, which has arguably been neglected in urban studies. While it has been shown that a central aspect of community leadership is the constant need to negotiate legitimacy in relation to both state institutions (the top) and the constituency (the bottom), this paper focuses on relationships at the bottom. Community leaders are viewed as a form of government involved in several historically developed practices of dealing with community-specific concerns. Based on insights from field visits to informal settlements in Cape Town, four sets of practices are described: intermediary practices, internal conflict mediation, migration business regulation and mobilisation. Through engaging in these practices, leaders are constructed as community activists, public servants, regulators of order, administrators and political representatives. This indicates that in spaces of informality, governance might take forms similar to formal governments, albeit lacking a separation or clear boundary between administrative and political leadership. Adding to the theorising of community leadership in urban studies, this paper demonstrates the usefulness of acknowledging and analysing administrative aspects of community leadership in addition to the political ones.
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- Community Leadership in Urban Informal Neighbourhoods: Micro-Politics and Micro-Administration in Informal Settlements in Cape Town
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