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Farming cattle, cultivating relationships: cattle ownership and cultural politics in Peddie District, Eastern Cape

Ainslie, A. ORCID: (2005) Farming cattle, cultivating relationships: cattle ownership and cultural politics in Peddie District, Eastern Cape. Social Dynamics - A Journal of African Studies, 31 (1). pp. 129-156. ISSN 0253-3952

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/02533950508628699


For many rural people in South Africa, the period 1994 to 2004 has been fraught with economic uncertainty. Households in former Bantustan areas have sought wherever possible to retain high levels of rural-urban mobility, and to maximise their use of government-provided welfare transfers and services and of local natural resources. This paper explores the role of cattle ownership in the fragile, contested livelihoods and the cultural politics of households in rural Peddie District. It first briefly reviews the Eastern Cape provincial government's efforts to commercialise agriculture, and finds these efforts to be conceptually and operationally weak. Secondly, it provides insights from the rich anthropological literature on the meanings and motives that link people with cattle in rural Africa. It then presents case-histories that illustrate how people, helped or hindered by cattle, negotiate the social, economic and cultural changes that affect relations both within households and between the rural and the urban sectors in the Eastern Cape. The paper concludes with some thoughts on the role of cattle-linked livelihoods in affording people a measure of economic and social autonomy at the household level, given the uneven penetration of the market.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of International Development
ID Code:82831
Uncontrolled Keywords:Eastern Cape, South Africa, livestock/cattle production, sociology, Xhosa-speaking people
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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