Home Institution

University of Puget Sound

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

South Africa: Social and Political Transformation


This case study investigates the lived experiences of eKhenana, a shack settlement under the leadership of Abahlali baseMjondolo, as they attempt to navigate the increasingly unequal urban landscape. The research presented is focused on theories of urban marginality, food sovereignty, and dignity. I advocate that, in the margins, dignity can be restored through the implementation of a communal garden. Presented as a case study, this research centers the voices and experiences of the commune. The paper first depicts a brief timeline of eKhenana, and explains how they have created not just a place to live, but a community and a home. The next section interrogates the intersections between the communal garden and the politics of dignity. Lastly, I provide an analysis of the repression and violence facing the commune. This research finds that the communal garden plays an imperative role in both feeding the community and restoring dignity. At the core of this paper is the recognition that in restoring dignity, we have the potential to change everything.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Agriculture | Civic and Community Engagement | Food Security | Human Ecology | Inequality and Stratification | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Justice | Urban, Community and Regional Planning | Urban Studies and Planning


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