Home, lands and homelands in post-apartheid South Africa (EN)
Olaf Zenker (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg)
Steffen Jensen (Aalborg University)
Hylton White (University of the Witwatersrand)
Thursday 12 July, 11:30-13:15, 14:30-16:15, Friday 13 July, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

This panel explores current ways of being in and belonging to former South African homelands. Focusing on the political economy and sociality of "home" and "lands", the panel probes the potentials and limitations for managing uncertainty and disquiet under conditions of multiple marginalisations.

Long abstract:

Epitomising the ideology of Grand Apartheid, the homelands in South Africa evolved as places forcefully made "the home" of millions of ethnicised Africans and comprising overcrowded lands of poor quality and deliberately marginal industrialisation. Increasingly constituting territories of uncertainty and unrest, these areas have persisted as spaces of neglect and abject poverty into the post-colonial present. Addressing this continuing neglect, this panel seeks to explore the multiple imageries and social realities of being within and belonging to former homelands: have people made these relocation spots their "home"? Do they wish to return to earlier homes (e.g. through land restitution) or rather long for leaving elsewhere? What is the place of former homelands in the wider political economy, of South Africa and beyond, of labour migration, consumption and desired biographical futures? And what is the state of homelands' actual "lands" in their multiple dimensions: as economic resources for agriculture, mining, forestry, tourism, residence and investment; as conflicting realms of political and legal pluralism, in which local government uneasily coexists with increasingly resurrected neo-traditional authorities; as social spaces, in which gender and intergenerational relations are renegotiated and identities remade in light of equally contested "traditions" and "modernities". While former homelands in Post-Apartheid South Africa surely constitute agentic spaces for actors' skillful management of both "home" and "lands", this panel also probes the limits to such mastering of uncertainty and disquiet - limits that are set by the fact that, for many, being and belonging to former homelands still means existing in dire straits.