PhD theses

All Wageningen University PhD theses

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    Wageningen PhD theses

    This database contains bibliographic descriptions of all Wageningen University PhD theses from 1920 onwards. It is updated on a daily basis by WUR Library.

    Author abstracts and/or summaries are added to all descriptions. A link to the full text dissertation is added to the bibliographic description. In a few cases, no electronic version is available, mostly because of copyright issues.

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    mail icon WUR Library, 9 july 2012


Record number 2040986
Title Landscapes of deracialization : power, brokerage and place-making on a South African frontier
show extra info.
Yves P.B. Van Leynseele
Author(s) Van Leynseele, Y.P.B.
Publisher [S.l. : s.n.]
Publication year 2013
Description XII, 248 p ill
Notes Proefschrift Wageningenshow all notes
Met lit. opg. - Met samenvatting in het Engels en Nederlands
ISBN 9789461737311
Tutors Ploeg, Prof. dr. J.D. van der ; Hebinck, Dr. P.G.M.
Graduation date 2013-11-05
Dissertation no. 5596
Author abstract show abstract

This thesis deals with the politicized struggles for land in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. One of the three branches of the postapartheid land reform programme, land restitution, is a key focus of this thesis. It is particular in its goal to compensate victims of past land dispossessions who lost land rights as result of racially-discriminatory laws by redistributing land to communities. It is argued that far from being a clearly defined programme with planned outcomes, land restitution triggers unintended outcomes. It becomes but one land claim in a social and physical landscape saturated with competing claims to land. What is discussed in this thesis as sedimented landscapes of meaning have largely determined the scope of development and a sense of redress amongst the beneficiaries of land restitution. Past structures of authority like traditional leadership have reinvented themselves and continue to prosper due to the possibilities offered by land restitution policies. More symbolically, past structures of belonging and imagined livelihoods that land restitution beneficiaries cherished in the intervening years between forced removal from their land and current restoration of land ownership, continue to animate expectations of the future. Past land use practices by private landowners and existent spatial planning frameworks also inform the scope and breadth of possible outcomes. The case study sites in this thesis are sites government deems worth preserving, one for its exceptional aesthetic value as natural and cultural heritage site (Kranspoort), the other for its being high-value commercial, export-oriented farmland (Levubu). Government in conjunction with leaders of land restitution groups and business- and land use planners have entered into Community-Public-Private-Partnerships that aim to secure the pre-restitution use of the land and a gradual transfer of management tasks to beneficiary communities. The range of actors invited into the governance of land restitution deals and the state’s experimental approach to supporting the partnership arrangements, imply that partnerships reflect laboratories of experimentation and a dynamic field of power in which positions of actors change in response to shifts in the distribution of responsibilities and resources.


The thesis develops a relational approach to place-making. It suggests abandoning the focus on the ‘land question’ or ‘agrarian question’ as expression of past and current political economies  and ideological positions. It analyses the assemblages which result from the interplay of technical, value-laden interventions in spatial and business planning, community-specific ideas of past belonging and historical rights to land and the historical sedimentations associated with past land use by exiting white landowners. Various place-making practices, both symbolic and material, thus converge into what has been termed as the entangled landscapes of deracialization. Particular attention is paid to key brokers (e.g. traditional leaders, elected community representatives, contracted consultants and white farm managers), the repertoires they use, their social and cultural backgrounds and to what extent their current social- and political agency provides explanations for the unexpected outcomes of land restitution deals. In their efforts to appropriate space, these brokers draw on different registers and entitlements. Claims to landed authority based on rights as historically-dispossessed communities deserving compensation and the so-called managerial entitlements that result from the privatization of the responsibility of development may converge and co-exist in the same social space. In analyzing the incomplete nature of the transformation of racialized land relations, it is argued that although struggles for land still revolve in part around property and demands from rural constituencies and land claimants to gain access to productive land, an important shift is discernible, requiring adequate attention to the responsibility to govern managerial spaces in land restitution. This observation requires increased academic emphasis on how ‘process’ can be owned and the role and positions of well-situated social actors or brokers. It leads me to argue the importance of studying brokerage as a process and a key concept for a better understanding of emergent properties of South Africa’s landscapes of deracialization.

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Keyword(s) land reform / land rights / communities / land ownership / land diversion / land use / racial discrimination / rural development / rural sociology / limpopo / south africa
Categories Development Sociology
Publication type PhD thesis
Language English
About (Dutch) Deze dissertatie gaat over gepolitizeerde strijd voor land in de Zuid-Afrikaanse provincie Limpopo. Aangezien land de kern was van het koloniale en apartheidsbeleid van verpaupering en segregatie en van de daarmee gepaard gaande praktijken, waarbij de blanken zich 87% van het land toeëigenden, was landhervorming onontkoombaar nadat het African National Congress in 1994 aan de macht was gekomen. Dit onderzoek concentreert zich op landteruggave (land restitution), een van de drie onderdelen van het landhervormingsprogramma. Landteruggave heeft een bijzonder doel: recht doen aan gemeenschappen wier land voorheen gemeenschapsbezit was door deze groepen te compenseren voor het verlies van land en levensonderhoud als gevolg van racistisch landbeleid. Voor zover compensatie aankoop van land betreft door de regering die het vervolgens distribueert aan groepen met historische rechten op het land, brengen landtransacties bijzondere uitdagingen met zich mee ten aanzien van het ideaal van herstellende gerechtigheid en wat bedoeld wordt met ‘het verleden in het heden brengen’.
About This thesis deals with the politicized struggles for land in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. With land having been an essential part of colonial and apartheid segregation policies and practice – with 87% of land appropriated by whites –, a land reform programme was imperative after the African National Congress came to power in 1994. One of the three branches of the land reform programme, land restitution, is a key focus of this thesis. It is particular in its goal to do justice to victims of past land dispossessions who lost land rights as result of racially-discriminatory laws by compensating them for this past loss of land and livelihoods. Where compensation for lost rights involves the government buying and redistributing land to groups with historical rights to land, such land deals present particular challenges around the ideal of restorative justice and what is means to ‘bring the past into the present’.
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