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Land, Memory, Reconstruction, and Justice

Perspectives on Land Claims in South Africa

Cherryl Walker

Publication Year: 2010

In South Africa land is one of the most significant and controversial topics. Land restitution has been a complex, multidimensional process that has failed to meet the expectations with which it was initially launched in 1994. Ordinary citizens, policymakers, and analysts have begun to question progress in land reform in the years since South Africa’s transition to democracy. Land, Memory, Reconstruction, and Justice brings together a wealth of topical material and case studies by leading experts in the field who present a rich mix of perspectives from politics, sociology, geography, social anthropology, law, history, and agricultural economics. The collection addresses both the material and the symbolic dimensions of land claims, in rural and urban contexts, and explores the complex intersection of issues confronting the restitution program, from the promotion of livelihoods to questions of rights, identity, and transitional justice. A valuable contribution to the field of land and agrarian studies, both in South Africa and internationally, it is undoubtedly the most comprehensive treatment to date of South Africa’s postapartheid land claims process and will be essential reading for scholars and students of land reform for years to come.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

The editors thank the Ford Foundation (South Africa) for its generous support of both the 2006 conference that gave rise to this publication and the production of the publication itself. The larger project of which the conference and publication are components was originally developed within...


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pp. xi

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pp. 1-14

This collection of articles explores the conflicted terrain of land claims and land restitution in postapartheid South Africa. The volume comprises thematic overviews and detailed case studies in which the authors wrestle with the many meanings and complex outcomes of the state’s official program...

Contextual, Comparative, and Legal Perspectives

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pp. 15

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Reconciling the Past, Present, and Future

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pp. 17-40

Land restitution is intended to right the wrongs of the past: to redress unjust dispossession and to heal. In postapartheid South Africa, it is expected to help reverse racially skewed patterns of landownership in the countryside as well as in urban areas. As part of a wider land reform process, it must help...

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Giving Land Back or Righting Wrongs? Comparative Issues in the Study of Land Restitution

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pp. 41-60

Land dispossession is seen by some as the central political-economic issue of colonialism and central to the creation of modern capitalism. It has rested not only on force but on new forms of property and discipline; it has affirmed Lockean notions of property and civilization, and constructions of racial and ethnic difference. Land restitution promises the redress of...

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Change through Jurisprudence

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pp. 61-80

South African land reform legislation has two major objectives: (1) to make good the injustices of past spatial discrimination based on race and (2) to address the massive underdevelopment resulting from such policies. The aim of restitution has been widely understood as falling squarely within the first objective. Essentially “backward-looking” (Gross 2004, 47), its primary ...

Part 2 Restitution Voices Memory, Contestation, Reconstruction

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pp. 81-97

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Urban Restitution Narratives

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pp. 83-99

On 19 June 1996 about fifty people took their seats in a small hall in Rondebosch East, a suburb of Cape Town.1 These individuals had a common history— they and their families had once lived in an area in Cape Town known as Black River (now a part of Rondebosch, see map 3). I was informed about...

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The Right to Land Restitution as Inspiration for Mobilzation

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pp. 100-115

This chapter is an initial exploration and sharing of experiences and ideas based on a case study of a group of small farmers who have occupied and are producing on land to which they believe they have a historical right. The group, called Mahlahluvani (although they include people from other...

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Choosing Cash over Landin Kalk Bay and KnysnaThe Time Factor in Urban Land Claims

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pp. 116-130

A common scenario in restitution cases around South Africa has been that early on in the process significant numbers of land claimants wish to have land restored to them.1 As time passes, however, this number decreases, and by the time the claim reaches the settlement stage, only a small core...

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Securing Postsettlement Support toward Sustainable Restitution

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pp. 131-140

Travel down the world-famous Garden Route and you will be struck by the beauty: majestic coastlines on one side and the Outeniqua Mountains on the other, with lakes, forests, and fynbos (indigenous vegetation) in between. This is indeed a piece of heaven, a place abundant in natural...

Restituting Community Politics, Identity, Development

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pp. 141

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Acrimonious Stakeholder Politics

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pp. 143-162

The protracted and difficult process of land restitution has to be understood not just in terms of the various legal and institutional complications of the program but also in terms of the political dynamics among key local level stakeholders, including local government, representatives of claim...

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“Model Tribes” and Iconic Conservationists? Tracking the Makuleke Restitution Case in Kruger National Park

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pp. 163-180

On a recent visit to Makuleke village on the western border of the Kruger National Park (KNP), we went to greet formally the Makuleke chief Phahlela Joas Mugakula, who asked us, somewhat playfully, why we were so interested in Makuleke. The chief ’s question prompted us to reflect critically...

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The ≠Khomani San Land Claim against the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

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pp. 181-197

This chapter tracks the progression of the ≠Khomani San land restitution case affecting the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, beginning with the initiation of the claim, to the present postsettlement activities of some of the claimants.1 The chapter examines the manner in which “authentic....

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The Ambiguities of Using Betterment Restitution as a Vehicle for Development

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pp. 198-214

“Betterment” planning, or “rehabilitation,” has given rise to the most widespread form of resettlement in rural South Africa. It differs from other forms of forced resettlement in that it took place entirely within the former bantustans (homelands). Officially portrayed as an attempt to combat erosion, conserve the environment, and improve agricultural production...

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Land Restitution and Community Polotics

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pp. 215-232

In this chapter I explore the dynamics of land struggles and associated community politics in the Roosboom land claim in the province of KwaZulu- Natal. The former Roosboom residents living in Ezakheni (a township outside Ladysmith, to which they were relocated during apartheid forced removals) constituted one of the first communities in the province to publicly...

Restitution Policy Limits and Possibilities

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pp. 233

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Land Claims and Comanagement of Protected Areas in South Africa

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pp. 235-254

Land reform in protected areas is an intensely debated issue and one that continues to challenge many affected governments, agencies, and individuals around the world.1 The key challenge is how to ensure that both conservation and people’s rights to land and natural resources are main...

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Restitution in Default

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pp. 255-272

The historical Cato Manor of the early 1950s is celebrated in literature and liberation historiography as a symbol of popular resistance to apartheid. Nationally not as iconic in the popular imagination as District Six and Sophiatown, this Durban suburb enjoys a prominent reputation nonetheless....

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Unfinished Business

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pp. 273-287

What has become plain since the promulgation of the Restitution of Land Rights Act is that the processing and adjudication of land claims is a complex task. Yet the end result of a successful claim for land restoration is merely the return of one component of what was lost. As pointed out by....

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Restitution, Agriculture, and Livelihoods

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pp. 288-305

Although the main objective of South Africa’s land restitution program has been restorative justice and reconciliation, its rural component has always had a recognized role within a broader rural development strategy. In the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) 1994 Reconstruction and Develop...

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Strategic Questions about Strategic Partners

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pp. 306-324

The South African land reform program has been lauded for its consensual and transparent approach—particularly the eschewing of the powers of expropriation granted under the Constitution—but it has also been widely criticized for the slow pace of land transfer and the failure of many land reform projects to make productive use of their land (Borras 2003; Hall...


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pp. 325-327


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pp. 327-335

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443545
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821419274

Page Count: 335
Publication Year: 2010