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Contested Territories and Living Law in South African Land Reform

Venue: PLAAS Boardroom
Date: 4 Apr 2017
Time: 13:30 to 14:30

Presenter: Daniel Huizenga, PhD Candidate in the Socio-Legal Studies Program at York University, Canada

Can engaging with several legal and normative frameworks provide a means to challenge and re-configure traditional territories and to re-imagine collective property holding in South Africa? Collective land holding in rural areas is found to be better understood as socially embedded whereby families, kin groups, or other levels of social organisation access and control land in layered and nested forms of authority. If apartheid-era territories, governed by traditional leaders, are not representative of actually-existing forms of authority in rural areas, what legal means are people using to make legible their diverse forms of human association? What barriers are they confronting? Critics argue that proposed national legislation, such as the Communal Land Rights Bill and the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill, entrenches apartheid territories and bolsters the authority of traditional leaders over their rural subjects. In this seminar, Daniel Huizenga uses a number of case studies to highlight the diverse means by which rural peoples and their advocates are making communal resource rights legible in law. He highlights some of the ways that traditional territories are being challenged through engaging with multiple scales and jurisdictions of law and policy and unpacks how living law is developed in this mix. The researcher will also consider the many uses of land (beyond a site of production) and explore the difficulties of getting these uses recognised.