The Land Question: Addressing the Legacy of Spatial Injustice in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Authors: Jana Brady*, Southern Connecticut State University
Topics: Africa, Environmental Justice
Keywords: South Africa, apartheid, land reform, expropriation without compensation
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 25
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


South Africa has seen struggle after struggle for nearly its entire history. First there was a struggle to transform the land, turning it into something productive, that could sustain human life. Then there was the struggle for freedom--the anti-Apartheid movement, which was an effort to transform the government, turning it into something fair, that would value human dignity. Now South Africa is in a struggle to transform lives. The end of Apartheid was supposed to be a new beginning for South Africans, but political liberation hasn’t translated to material or economic gain for the vast majority of the South Africans.

A central question in the post-Apartheid restorative justice conversation is what to do about the land. Between 1913 and 1989 3.5 million nonwhite south Africans were forcibly driven off agricultural land and urban neighborhoods into far flung reserves and racially designated locations. The land question in South Africa is really a question of what happens with you strip people of their productive and economic rights, and their identity and how do you undo that damage. This paper discusses the history of dispossession and the several failed attempts to make it right.

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