Fellowship: Rocca Dissertation Research
Fellowship Year(s): 2016
Project/Theme Title: A Field of Meaning: The Urban Land Question in South Africa
Abstracts: Historically situated as a rural and agrarian concern, the ‘land question’ in contemporary South Africa must be reconfigured as an urban space of claims-making, and symbolic field of meaning and social formation. Mobilized by an array of social and political actors, the land question is now a provocation of the post-apartheid state for its failures to reconcile past and present articulations of spatial and racial injustice. In response, the African National Congress (ANC) has historically re-opened the land restitution claims process, intending to restore land or compensation to those dispossessed by colonial and apartheid-era policies and practices. This research suggests that the current restitution process is 1) a coordinated effort toward state entrenchment through land transfers to politically connected elites, and 2) a new terrain of politics wherein the reorganization of social formations is intertwined with the re-ordering of urban space.