To Swim with Crocodiles cover
To Swim with Crocodiles
Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa, 1800-1996
To Swim with Crocodiles: Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa, 1800–1996 offers a fresh perspective on the history of rural politics in South Africa, from the rise of the Zulu kingdom to the civil war at the dawn of democracy in KwaZulu-Natal. The book shows how Africans in the Table Mountain region drew on the cultural inheritance of ukukhonza—a practice of affiliation that binds together chiefs and subjects—to seek social and physical security in times of war and upheaval. Grounded in a rich combination of archival sources and oral interviews, this book examines relations within and between chiefdoms to bring wider concerns of African studies into focus, including land, violence, chieftaincy, ethnic and nationalist politics, and development. Colonial indirect rule, segregation, and apartheid attempted to fix formerly fluid polities into territorial “tribes” and ethnic identities, but the Zulu practice of ukukhonza maintained its flexibility and endured. By exploring what Zulu men and women knew about and how they remembered ukukhonza, Kelly reveals how Africans envisioned and defined relationships with the land, their chiefs, and their neighbors as white minority rule transformed the countryside and local institutions of governance. 
Subjects: History | Social Science
Publication Date: June 1st, 2018
396 pages| 6 in x 9 in
JILL E. KELLY is an Assistant Professor of African history at Southern Methodist University. She has published articles in the Journal of Southern African Studies, African Historical Review, and Gendering Ethnicity in African Women's Lives.

Early Praise

“This revealing work of scholarship uncovers long-ignored historical processes that fueled a ruinous civil war at the end of apartheid. Sourcing extensive archival and oral testimonies, Jill E. Kelly’s superb analysis of Zulu community struggles over power and land will reshape how we understand the relationship between belonging and violence in South Africa.”
BENEDICT CARTON, author of Blood from Your Children: The Colonial Origins of Generational Conflict in South Africa

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