Welcome to PLAAS

PLAAS does research, policy engagement, teaching and training about the dynamics of chronic poverty and structural inequality in Southern Africa, with a particular emphasis on the key role of restructuring and contesting land holding and agro-food systems in the subcontinent and beyond. Our focus is on the analysis of marginalised livelihoods in Southern Africa, especially of subsistence and smallholder farmers and farm workers, of coastal and inland artisanal fisheries and fishing communities; and of informal self employment in rural and urban areas.

Research Areas


Our research covers diverse areas, ranging from land and tenure reform,  land investment and agro-food restructuring, fisheries and ecosystem management, to social protection and informal self employment. In all this work, our key focus is on the causes and dynamics of inequality and structural poverty, on the economic and social agency of poor...

Latest Publication

Foodways of the poor in South Africa

Working Paper 36

South African food systems are in a dynamic process of transition due to changes in food value chain regimes which have major impacts on the poor. However, these transitions are also shaped by...

Upcoming Events

‘Not for sale’: Property and power dynamics in transfrontier conservation areas

Presenter: Prof Maano Ramutsindela, Dept of Environmental & Georgraphical Science, UCT Social science research has shown that the state routinely uses its monopoly of power and violence to...


Book review: In the shadow of policy

While the expression of the voices of officials and experts are limited and detract from a main tenet of the book, In the Shadow of Policy is a valuable contribution to the discussion on land and...