Accepted Paper:

'We are Swazis but South Africa is our place!' Neo-traditionalisation, culture and locality in a Swazi chiefdom in South Africa   

Author:

Severin Lenart (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses processes of establishing a neo-traditional Swazi authority in South Africa and its implications for disputing. It shows how identity, culture and law in times of transformative crisis are related to global discourses and construed in relation to a specific transborder locality.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will discuss processes of (re-)establishing a neo-traditional Swazi authority, encompassing socio-cultural and politico-legal representations and its implications for disputing in a rural, peri-urban environment in post-apartheid South Africa. Since 1994 globally circulating models of Market-Led Agrarian Reform enable previously disadvantaged people in South Africa to acquire or reclaim land. Through a thick ethnographic description of a recently formed land trust that decided to 'go back to the roots' I will analyze how attempts of legitimizing and consolidating neo-traditional authority are, on the one hand, related to global discourses of decentralization and self-determination and, on the other, construed in relation to a specific (historical) transborder locality with Swaziland. The paper will then show, by providing examples, how these processes of neo-traditionalisation in regard to a specific locality influence local disputing behavior and the functioning of institutions in regard to agency and procedure in a time of transformative crisis.

Panel W037
The local in times of change