Rayna Sutherland in South Africa

Rayna Sutherland

My name is Rayna and in September, I will be headed to Cape Town, South Africa to act as an intern for Natural Justice. Natural Justice is a non-profit organization of lawyers specializing in the intersections of environmental and human rights law to work in pursuit of social and environmental justice.

My role will be to assist with the Governance of Land and Natural Resource as well as Traditional Knowledge and Benefit Sharing Programmes. I will be writing up land case studies of marginalized communities, assisting in the technical review of South Africa’s land policy frameworks, supporting the design and implementation of Natural Justice’s land conference and resources materials as well as supporting their work around resource rights in terms of key plant species such as Rooibos. I am also excited to assist in field work of land and resources cases of coastal communities in South Africa, legal support to community land struggles in Namibia and a biocultural community process of an indigenous community living inside the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve in Botswana.

My research will possibly consist of a gender-based analysis of South Africa’s land reform program. My hope would be to analyze structural roots of gender and racially inequitable land distribution through the perspective of key informants. I also hope to acknowledge and highlight female experiential knowledge of navigating these programs and efforts to access land, to point to persisting challenges, to better understand possible reform.

I am thankful to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Scholarship and the Filosa Family International Development Studies Placement Scholarship for making this opportunity possible. I am very thankful to Natural Justice for inviting me to collaborate with them and learn from their work! I am also grateful to the staff and faculty at the Centre for Critical Development Studies for guiding me, academically and personally, to prepare for this learning experience abroad. And thank you to my amazing cohort who have showed me more support than I could ask and from whom I have learned so much in our three years leading up to this stage of our learning journey!

I am so excited to take in this experience for all that it is! I hope to grow in stride with its challenges, embrace its learning opportunities and appreciate as much of the diverse South African culture as possible while being aware of my fluid positionality.

I will be using Facebook (Rayna Sutherland) as well as Twitter and Instagram (@raynasutherland) to share some of my learning and memories throughout this incredible experience!