Moral Subjectivity and Affective Deficit in the Transitional State

On Claiming Land in South Africa

in Social Analysis

In the context of transitional justice, how does the reinvented state come to be assumed as a social fact? South African land restitution interpellates victims of apartheid- and colonial-era forced removals as claimants, moral and legal subjects of a virtuous 'new' state. In the emotional narratives of loss and suffering called forth in land claim forms, the state is addressed as a subject capable of moral engagement. Claim forms also 'capture' affects related to the event of forced removals as an unstable political resource. However, within an ultimately legal and bureaucratic process, the desire for recognition is typically not reciprocated. Moreover, material settlements are indefinitely delayed due to political and institutional complications. The resulting disillusionment is counterweighed by persistent aspirations for state redress.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology