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Soil Conservation in a Racially Ordered Society: South Africa 1930-1970

Peter Delius and Stefan Schirmer
Journal of Southern African Studies
Vol. 26, No. 4, Special Issue: African Environments: Past and Present (Dec., 2000), pp. 719-742
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2637568
Page Count: 24
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Soil Conservation in a Racially Ordered Society: South Africa 1930-1970
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Abstract

This paper examines the ways in which the formulation and implementation of strategies of soil conservation in South Africa during the period 1930-1970 were powerfully influenced by racist attitudes and by the differential political and economic position of whites and blacks within the systems of segregation and apartheid. The paper traces and compares the evolution of state intervention in pursuit of soil conservation in relation to white farmlands and African reserves with a particular emphasis on processes in the Transvaal. The forms of state intervention that emerged provoked bitter resistance in many African communities while they unintentionally supported inefficient and destructive practices amongst many white farmers. The policies took different forms, changed over time and had diverse consequences. But they did achieve an overall uniformity of outcome - they failed to live up to the expectations of conservationists. The paper seeks to demonstrate that there were problems both with excessively coercive and excessively cooperative policy approaches, which suggests that a policy framework that strikes a balance between the two extremes is likely to be more successful.

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