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Open Access Publications from the University of California

‘Keeping Land for Their Children’: Generation, Migration and Land in South Africa’s Transkei

  • Author(s): Fay, Derick A
  • et al.

© 2015 The Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies. Even as they cultivate less land, residents of Hobeni, in the former Transkei homeland, describe increasing concerns over land shortage, explaining that disused land has its owners who ‘are keeping that land for their children’. This paper examines the social practices that shape rural land tenure, in a setting where traditional authorities bear little relevance to customary tenure. Land in this context holds value not only for agricultural and residential use; it is a resource for rural residents to persuade migrants to maintain their rural ties, in a political-economic context in which migration has become more unstable and insecure. Attention to the attractive value of land as a resource situated in relations between migrants and rural kin also highlights the limits of a narrowly economic perspective on apparently ‘underutilised’ land: land may be materially ‘unproductive’ but socially valuable.

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