Yale University, PhD '20
Thuto Thipe is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of History. Her research focuses on social and legal history of 19th and 20th century South Africa. Her manuscript in progress, Black Freehold: Landownership in Alexandra Township, tells the story of the history of land ownership in Alexandra Township, near Johannesburg, from its founding in 1912 to 1979 when the state had stripped black land owners of their freehold land ownership and forced removals had largely displaced Alexandra residents. It moves from the examination of individual buildings and yards to a structural analysis of the Township and its development to show how different elements of land ownership rights combined to produce a dynamic, black-controlled Township that was at odds with colonists’ view of black people’s social and political place in South African society. The disruption that black people’s freehold land ownership in Alexandra caused to white supremacist order drove the South African state to invest enormous financial resources and political capital in dismantling black freehold rights, physically demolishing large parts of the Township, and forcibly moving tens of thousands of people from Alexandra in efforts to destroy the social realities that residents produced under freehold.
She holds a PhD in History and African American Studies from Yale University, Masters in Gender Studies from the University of Cape Town, where she also held positions as a lecturer and researcher, and BA from Macalester College.
Recent Research / Recent Publications
“Photographing Home Life in Alexandra between the 1930s and 1970s,” in Foundational African Writers: Peter Abrahams, Noni Jabavu, Sibusiso Nyembezi, Es’kia Mphahlele. Eds. Bhekizizwe Peterson, Khwezi Mkhize and Makhosazana Xaba. University of the Witwatersrand Press, 2022.
“Land and reparation politics and policy after apartheid,” in The Oxford Handbook of South African History Ed. Daniel Magaziner. Oxford University Press, 2020.
With de Souza, Monica and Luwaya, Nolundi. “‘The Advert Was Put Up Yesterday’: Public Participation in the Traditional Courts Bill Legislative Process.” New York Law Review 60(2) (2015/2016): 431-463.
“The Boundaries of Tradition: An examination of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act.” Harvard Human Rights Journal, Online Symposium (2014).
“Defining Boundaries: Gender and Property Rights in South Africa’s Traditional Courts Bill.” Laws 2(4) (2013): 483-511.