Original Research

Depoliticising Square Kilometre Array and Vanwyksvlei in the anti-politics machine

Nishai Moodley
Inkanyiso | Vol 14, No 1 | a16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ink.v14i1.16 | © 2022 Nishai Moodley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 December 2022 | Published: 21 December 2022

About the author(s)

Nishai Moodley, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


This article follows the study of the anti-politics machine that explains why and how developmental projects fail, in the context of a little drought-stricken Karoo town called Vanwyksvlei, Northern Cape. The five (corporate) social responsibility programmes, under the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in South Africa, can be considered a failure and this reveals ‘mismatches’ and contradictions in what is considered ‘development’ between Vanwyksvlei’s residents and SKA. With ethnographic methods, semi-structured interviews and textual analysis, the ‘anti-politics machine’ is useful in deconstructing and depoliticising the relationship among developmental actors involved in the five programmes. Firstly, deconstructing and depoliticising the five programmes attempts to explain the success–failure binary of development that points to critiquing the development discourse from problem-orientated to a problem-solving orientation. Secondly, Habermas’ theory of communicative action aids in the quest of consensus through deliberative and negotiation strategies between local people, national governments and global organisations. Lastly, the significance of the anti-politics machine goes beyond accounting for the five failed corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes and extends to the recognition of local sphere, not only to depoliticise the politics of astronomy knowledge with indigenous insight, but also assist in the urgency of water supply.


development; mismatches; anti-politics machine; Square Kilometre Array (SKA); astronomy; Vanwyksvlei.

JEL Codes

A10: General; A13: Relation of Economics to Social Values

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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