Brokering, mediating and translating rural development: land and agricultural reform in the southern Cape

Hart, Timothy George Balne (2020-12)

Thesis (DPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The anthropology of development has begun to focus on the analytical concept of brokers as crucial actors, and to investigate their presence across the ‘development chain’. Development does not simply work through technical processes but through complex social processes of brokerage or mediation, invoking processes of assemblage, translation and representation of realities. This dissertation examines the agency of brokers and mediators to understand how development unfolds and is shaped hrough acts of mediation. It challenges the concept of brokers for being too broad, and not accounting for less influential actors who also mediate and perform broker-like roles and activities. Since 1994 rural development interventions in South Africa have mostly been marked by the redistribution of large-scale commercial farmland. The assumption has been that commercial agriculture is the economic mainstay of rural areas and that land seekers want land to farm in order to improve livelihoods and social circumstances. Yet, many of the resulting projects have been economically unsuccessful due to misguided policy, bureaucratic inefficiency, bad planning and insufficient support. The generally accepted consensus amongst policymakers is that success simply requires the improvement in current state policy and agency practices. This over simplification ignores the actors identified as brokers and their agency of mediation in influencing outcomes. This dissertation explores the role and agency of brokers in rural development by examining the redistribution of farmland to a number of households in the village of Waldesruhe in the southern Cape and the subsequent promotion of honeybush farming. The study identifies brokers both in the village and in various government departments and the technology-providing science council involved. Waldesruhe, a former mission station and coloured rural reserve, provides a fertile basis for brokers and the development of brokerage capabilities used to mediate these two rural development interventions of land redistribution and honeybush production. The study is based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork that included extensive participant observation, workshops, formal and informal interviews, archival research and the analysis of policy and planning documents. In Waldesruhe in the Southern Cape, brokers and other mediators involved in a land redistribution and honeybush project had an influential effect on the outcomes of the interventions. Beneficiary brokers were, at times, able to mediate land redistribution in the favour of beneficiaries and manipulate officials. Artful brokers used their mediation skills to attract support and resources for projects and to shape them, while other, less influential actors also managed to mediate and influence the project. These findings illustrate that development implementers and recipients have different ideas or logics about the opportunities and resources that development projects avail, and tend to reappropriate these for their own needs. Brokers and other actors are thus not neutral intermediaries and their agency affects development implementation and outcomes. The study shows that mediation needs to be recognised as an intrinsic part of the development process. Development needs to be understood as a social process combining many events, interactions, ideas and models that determine its outcomes, while mediation mitigates only some of these. The outcomes of brokerage and mediation are tempered by the changing positionality and influence of the mediators, while neither the habitus of the actors nor the historical-political economy and structural constraints can be ignored when evaluating the outcomes.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die antropologie van ontwikkeling het begin om op die analitiese konsep van agente te fokus as belangrike rolspelers en om hul teenwoordigheid in ‘die ketting van die ontwikkelingsproses’ te ondersoek. Ontwikkeling vind nie slegs plaas deur tegniese prosesse nie, maar ook deur die komplekse sosiale prosesse van bemiddeling of mediasie wat prosesse van samevoeging, vertaling en weergawe van realiteite behels. Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek die agentskap van bemiddelaars en mediators om te verstaan hoe ontwikkeling ontvou en gevorm word deur bemiddelingsaksies. Die studie bevraagteken die konsep van ontwikkelingsagente as te breed en dat minder invloedryke rolspelers se bemiddelingsrolle en -aktiwiteite as ‘n reël nie in aanmerking geneem word nie.Landelike ontwikkelingsintervensies in Suid-Afrika is sedert 1994 gekenmerk deur die herverdeling van groot-skaalse kommersiële landbougrond. Die aaname is dat kommersiële landbou die ekonomiese basis van landelike areas is en dat diegene wat grond soek verkies om deur boerdery ‘n bestaan te maak om daardeur hul sosiale omstandighede te verbeter. Verskeie projekte was egter ekonomies onsuksesvol as gevolg van misplaaste beleid, burokratiese oneffektiwiteit, swak beplanningen onvoldoende ondersteuning. Die algemeen-aanvaarde konsensus tussen beleidsmakers is dat sukses slegs afhang van verbeteringe in die huidige staatsbeleid en die praktyke van betrokke agentskappe. Hierdie oorvereenvoudiging ignoreer rolspelers wat geïdentifiseer is as agente en hul rol as bemiddelaars wat uitkomste beïnvloed. Die proefskrif verken die rol en agentskap van bemiddelaars in landelike ontwikkeling in die herverdeling van landbougrond vir ‘n aantal huishoudings in die dorpie Waldesruhe in die Suid-Kaap, asook die bevordering van die verbouing van heuningbos daarna. Die studie identifiseer bemiddelaars in die dorpie, in regeringsdepartemente en in die navorsingsraad wat tegnologie voorsien het. Waldesruhe, ‘n voormalige sendingstasie en landelike kleurling-area, dien as ‘n vrugbare basis vir bemiddelaars en die ontwikkeling van bemiddelings-vaardighede wat gebruik is om hierdie twee landelike ontwikkelingsintervensies vir die herverdeling van grond en die verbouing van heuningbos te medieer.Hierdie studie is gebaseer op langtermyn etnografiese veldwerk wat intensiewe deelnemende waarneming ingesluit het, asook werkswinkels, formele en informele onderhoude, die ondersoek van argiefmateriaal en die analise van beleids-en beplanningsdokumente. Ontwikkelingsagente en ander bemiddelaars betrokke by die grond-herverdeling en heuningbos-projekte in Waldesruhe in die Suid-Kaap, het ‘n beduidende invloed op die uitkoms van die intervensie gehad. Bemiddelaars uit die begunstigde groep was soms in staat om grond-herverdeling te bemiddel ten gunste van begunstigdes en om amptenare te manipuleer. Vaardige bemiddelaars het hul bemiddelingsvaardighede gebruik om te motiveer vir ondersteuning en hulpbronne en die omvang hiervan te bepaal, terwyl minder invloedryke akteurs daarin geslaag het om oorhoofs te bemiddel en die projek te beïnvloed.Die bevindinge illustreer dat ontwikkelings-implementeerders en –begunstigdes verskillende idees en persepsies het oor die geleenthede en hulpbronne wat ontwikkelingsprojekte daarstel en dat hul dit opeis vir hul eie behoeftes. Bemiddelaars en ander rolspelers is dus nie neutrale tussengangers nie en hul agentskap het ‘n invloed op ontwikkelings-implementering en –uitkomste. Die studie toon aan dat bemiddeling erken moet word as ‘n integrale deel van die ontwikkelingsproses. Ontwikkeling behoort verstaan te word as ‘n sosiale proses wat verskeie gebeure, interaksies, idees en modelle kombineer wat die uitkomste bepaal, terwyl bemiddeling slegs sommige van hierdie aspekte kan ‘versag’. Die uitkomste van bemiddeling en mediasie word deur die veranderende posisionering en invloed van die bemiddelaars getemper. Terselfdertyd kan die ‘habitus’ van akteurs, die historiese-politieke ekonomie asook strukturele beperkinge nie geïgnoreer word wanneer uitkomste geëvalueer word nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/109068
This item appears in the following collections: