Viewed from the Past, the Future of South African Citizenship

Publication Type:

Journal Article


African Studies, Volume 69, p.385–401 (2010)



The formation of South African citizenship between 1897 and 1937 may be explained through the process of bureaucratic regulation of the mobility of three populations: European, African, and Asian. The origins of South African laws of immigration and nationality are found in this period. Identifying first the baseline concept of South African citizenship, this article describes and analyses three manifestations of current ferment regarding such citizenship. In each of the branches of government, there is contestation regarding the currently dominant vision of South African citizenship. Most prominently, there is a contest between official residence citizenship and republication citizenship in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court. In conclusion, the article explores the potential for further movement towards denizenship within the South African migration regime.

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