This paper connects Marxist approaches to the agrarian political economy of South Africa with post-Marshallian and Foucauldian analyses of distributional regimes and late capitalist governmentality. Looking at South Africa’s stalled agrarian transition through the lens of biopolitics as well as class analysis can make visible otherwise disregarded connections between processes of agrarian change and broader contests about the terms of social and economic incorporation into the South African social and political order before, during and after Apartheid. This can bring a fresh sense of the broader political implications of the course of agrarian change in South Africa, and helps contextualise the enduring salience of land as a flashpoint within South Africa’s unresolved democratic transition.

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