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Journal of Modern African Studies

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How do government policies and practices affect struggles over collective identity and struggles over land? Examining the interconnections among collective identity struggles, land struggles and state policies and practices in post-apartheid South Africa, this paper argues that the government's contradictory policies and ambivalent practices have aggravated collective struggles over the boundaries of belonging. Specifically, the differing definitions of community set forth in traditional leadership, land tenure and land restitution policies exacerbate existing divisions among ‘communities’ concurrently subject to these policies and create practical policy dilemmas for decision-makers. This paper illustrates the interplay between public policies and collective identity struggles through close examination of struggles among the Barokologadi ba ga Maotwe, a so-called traditional community. The Barokologadi case underscores the necessity of attending to these interactions.


This is a post-print version of an article originally published in Journal of Modern African Studies,2013, Volume 51, Issue 3.. The version of record is available through: Cambridge University Press.