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Philosophy on the Border: Decoloniality and the Shudder of the Origin

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Untitled: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa
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Price: R 295
Publication Date: 2017-06-20
Binding: Softcover
ISBN: 978 1 86914 350 3
Width: 150
Height: 230
Pages: 464


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Review by Colin Marx
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 42: 176-178. doi:10.1111/1468-2427.12598

This edited collection takes its readers into the multiple complexities existent between activism and theory. Inspired by the life of Tessa Cousins, an internationally respected activist–scholar, the book is an excellent example of working with the contradictory complexities of everyday life. These complexities are embraced, with the editors insisting on keeping heterogeneous opposing forces in the same frame. For example, we read of statutory legal systems alongside customary or informal approaches to land management. The chapters work back and forth between rural and urban engagements with land, between past and present, between the rigidity of legislated bureaucracy and the ‘living law' fluidity of customary approaches. There are very few analyses of land dynamics that do this and Untitled is thus distinctive in examining how to conceive such complexities, where potential answers might lie, and how to engage with processes that appear to offer hope.

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A title deed = tenure security. Or does it? This book challenges this simple equation and its apparently self-evident assumptions. It argues that two very different property paradigms characterise South Africa. The first is the dominant paradigm of private property, referred to as an ‘edifice’, against which all other property regimes are measured and ranked. However, the majority of South Africans gain access to land and housing through very different processes, which this book calls social or off-register tenures. These tenures are poorly understood, a gap Untitled aims to address.

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