Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Release: Atuahene, "We Want What's Ours: Learning from South Africa's Land Restitution Program"

New from Oxford University Press: We Want What's Ours: Learning from South Africa's Land Restitution Program, by Bernadette Atuahene (Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology). The press explains:
Millions of people all over the world have been displaced from their homes and property. Dispossessed individuals and communities often lose more than the physical structures they live in and their material belongings, they are also denied their dignity. These are dignity takings, and land dispossessions occurring in South Africa during colonialism and apartheid are quintessential examples. There have been numerous examples of dignity takings throughout the world, but South Africa stands apart because of its unique remedial efforts. The nation has attempted to move beyond the more common step of providing reparations (compensation for physical losses) to instead facilitating dignity restoration, which is a comprehensive remedy that seeks to restore property while also confronting the underlying dehumanization, infantilization, and political exclusion that enabled the injustice. Dignity restoration is the fusion of reparations with restorative justice. In We Want Whats Ours, Bernadette Atuahenes detailed research and interviews with over one hundred and fifty South Africans who participated in the nations land restitution program provide a snapshot of South Africas successes and failures in achieving dignity restoration.

We Want What's Ours is globally relevant because dignity takings have happened all around the world and throughout history: the Nazi confiscation of property from Jews during World War II; the Hutu taking of property from Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide; the widespread commandeering of native peoples property across the globe; and Saddam Husseins seizing of property from the Kurds and others in Iraq are but a few examples. When people are deprived of their property and dignity in years to come, the lessons learned in South Africa can help governments, policy makers, scholars, and international institutions make the transition from reparations to the more robust project of dignity restoration.
A few blurbs:
"Bernadette Atuahene's We Want What's Ours is a powerful discussion of the impacts - economic, physical, and emotional - that Apartheid-era property dispossessions have had on South Africa's non-white urban dwellers. During that era, government-supported projects proceeded in areas occupied by non-whites with only the most minimal regard for the belongings of the local occupants. Atuahene uses extensive interview material to illuminate the still-raw sensibilities raised by past instances of property loss, as well as the difficulties that post-Apartheid South Africa has had in attempting to provide reparation." - Carol M. Rose
"This book is a sober and nuanced reflection on the dignitary harms that accompany displacement of a people from their place on earth. Atuahene favors remedies that acknowledge and respond to those harms while revealing the successes and failures of South Africas approach to this problem. Atuahene suggests ways to improve such responses not only in South Africa but in the many places around the world that have suffered dignity takings. A compelling and humane contribution to our understanding of what we owe each other." - Joseph William Singer
More information is available here, at OUP, and here, at the book's website.

Hat tip: Poverty Law Blog

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