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

Using livelihood analysis to examine rural development in SA's former homelands

This report draws on livelihoods-based analysis, in order to examine rural development, and rural development policy, within South African’s former ‘homeland’ (or ‘bantustan’) communal areas. The report commences by describing the larger context of the former homelands or bantustans, before defining ‘rural development’ and tracing policymakers...

Upcoming Events

Trajectories of Accumulation & the Agrarian question

Presenter: Professor Issa G. Shivji, Director of Nyerere Resource Centre, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Visiting Professor at PLAAS, UWC Accumulation lies at the heart of...


Africa's leading expert on law - Visiting Professor at UWC

Prof Issa Shivji (born 1946) is a Tanzanian author and academic, and one of Africa's leading experts on law and development issues. He will be joining the University of the Western Cape (UWC) as a Visiting Professor for two months, September to October 2017.

Prof Shivji...