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Agrarian Studies

Agrarian Studies Research Group

The Agrarian Studies Research Group is a department-based research group that was established in 2010 to develop and consolidate the multi-faceted research activities in the department relevant to land and agrarian reform in Southern Africa.

It consists of the work undertaken by two staff members of the department, namely Dr K Helliker and Professor M Roodt, as well as the thesis projects being pursued by a number of PhD and Masters students in the department.

Presently, there are five PhD students and two Masters students in the department that form part of the Agrarian Studies initiative. Five students are focusing their studies on Zimbabwe, including conservation farming in Masvingo Province; gender and land reform in Goromonzi District; informal institutions on redistributed farms in Mazowe District; and HIV/AIDS livelihoods in an informal settlement near Masvingo town. The South African students are looking at small-scale fisheries along the Wild Coast and farm labour on white commercial farms in the Eastern Cape Province.

Dr Helliker is the main editor of a book to be published in 2011 by Africa World Press (New Jersey, USA), titled Land Struggles and Civil Society in Southern Africa.

This volume is based on original field research on land struggles and civil society in Southern Africa, with chapters on South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Zambia. Most chapters are written by NGO and grassroots activists. In the context of global restructuring and specific nation-building projects, rural and agrarian relations in these countries continue to generate specific forms of inequalities and marginalisation. However, these processes of social exclusion have not gone unchallenged by rural communities, and land conflicts exist throughout the region. The book explores the extent to which rural organisations are grappling with issues of land and agrarian reform in a context where the sub-region is yet to clarify a coherent approach to resolving colonially-inherited questions and also in the face of new challenges around the conversion of land-use patterns. Many commonalities mark the contemporary agrarian question in the Southern Africa region, including market-driven processes, land concentration, food insecurity and customary tenure. But national particularities also exist, notably the presence of ex-settler societies (South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe).

The Agrarian Studies Research Group presented a successful series of three seminars in May 2011 on ‘Land Conflicts in South Africa’. The three presenters and topics were as follows:

Thursday May 5th:
Presenter: Ms Fatima Shadbodien (Women on Farms Project in the Western Cape)
Topic: The 17th Century slave foundation of commercial agriculture in South Africa, and its implications for the transformation of the sector in the 21st Century.

Thursday May 12th:
Presenter: Ben Cousins (PLAAS, University of Western Cape)
Topic: Social differentiation and 'accumulation from below' in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal.

Thursday May 19th:
Presenters: Bantoe David Ntseng (ChurchLand Programme) and Nomsa Mayvis Mkhize (Abahlali baseMjondolo)
Topic: Current resistance to urban and rural evictions in KwaZulu-Natal.


Last Modified: Mon, 29 May 2017 16:42:57 SAST