A Common Hunger: Land Rights in Canada and South Africa.


262 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55238-192-7
DDC 333.2




Reviewed by David Mardiros

David Mardiros is a lawyer and anthropological consultant in Kars,


Over the past 30 years, a considerable body of scholarship has developed, describing and analyzing indigenous land rights issues in countries that share a British common-law tradition. One country that has rarely been the subject of such comparisons in South Africa. This book is a welcome change from that oversight.


The book is divided into three sections. Part 1 provides an overview of the colonial history and the legal and social structures that developed in each country and impact upon the indigenous populations. Part 2 discusses the responses of indigenous peoples to assert control over their lands and lives, and Part 3 looks at the ongoing effects of colonialism and racism on the lives of indigenous Canadians and South Africans.


While focusing on the commonalities of experience among indigenous peoples in both countries, the book also discusses the important differences between the two—differences born out of different histories and experiences. The concept of “self-government” has very different meanings in the two countries: in Canada, it is part of the process of self-determination, while in South Africa it was used as a way of advancing racial separation and inequality during the Apartheid era. The book has a very useful discussion of reconciliation between Aboriginal and settler populations. While it is an extremely important process in both countries, it will unfold in very different way in large part because of the particular history of oppression suffered by the majority of South Africans throughout the 20th century.


This is a comprehensive work that draws upon a wide scholarly literature to effectively make comparisons and analogies between the two countries. It also contains an appendix that gives a concise overview of trends in Australia and New Zealand that adds to the work’s utility as a reference book. Written in a style that will appeal to a general audience, the book is a very useful addition to the literature on colonialism and post-colonial developments in parts of the former British Empire.


Fairweather, Joan G., “A Common Hunger: Land Rights in Canada and South Africa.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28141.