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After Apartheid: Chiefly Authority and the Politics of Land, Community and Development

Mathis, Sarah Michelle (2008)
Dissertation (266 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Donham, Donald L
Committee Members: Nugent, David ; Barlett, Peggy F ; Knauft, Bruce M ; Crais, Clifton C ; Mustafa, Hudita (Harvard University);
Research Fields: Anthropology, Cultural
Keywords: neoliberalism; community; development; gender; politics; land; KwaZulu-Natal; South Africa
Program: Laney Graduate School, Anthropology
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In the decade following the end of apartheid, the South African government has implemented a series of neoliberal reforms designed to stabilize the economy after a long period of political and economic instability. Reforms have also been influenced by a desire for redress for the wrongs of apartheid. However, the effects of these two agendas of reform have been rather unexpected in many impoverished former reserves. In these rural areas, where communities are still governed by hereditary chiefs and have access to few government services, local manifestations of the South African state are characterized by the persistence of authoritarian forms of rule and the vast expansion of social welfare. This work examines these political and economic changes through an ethnographic study of a semi-rural former reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. In the post-apartheid era of declining employment, rural households have shifted reliance from migrant wages to welfare grants from the state and money from the proliferation of development projects. Changing dynamics within the household regarding child care and the mobility of young women engaged in temporary or informal work has led to disputes between older and younger women over land, labor and income. The collapse of migrant labor and widespread unemployment has increased the dependency of people on sources of aid which are focused on giving to local communities--where local is defined as a "traditional community" under the jurisdiction of chiefs. However, this construction relies on silencing a long history of struggle against attempts to restrict the access of black South Africans to land and political rights through any system except that of chiefs. Memories of violence and collusion with the apartheid state by powerful members of these rural communities are pieces of history that are wrapped in silence and disabling of true reform, particularly as the stakes of holding onto rural land increase in light of growing poverty.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Introduction.......1

Chapter 2 - EMbo-Timuni and the Formation of the South African Reserves......36

Chapter 3 - From War Leaders to Freedom Fighters......75

Chapter 4 - The Politics of Land Reform: Tenure and Political Authority.....121

Chapter 5 - Development and Economic Change.....155

Chapter 6 - Disobedient Daughters: Debating Culture and Rights.....204

Chapter 7 - Conclusion.....238

Works Cited.....245


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