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Challenges in Land Tenure and Land Reform in Africa: Anthropological Contributions

Authors
Journal
World Development
0305-750X
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
37
Issue
8
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2008.08.021
Keywords
  • Africa
  • Land Debate
  • Anthropology
  • Land Conflicts
  • Property
  • Social Inequality
  • Commodification
Disciplines
  • Anthropology

Abstract

Summary This paper discusses the interface of anthropological research on land with policy positions across formative periods—from the colonial period through to the present as land tenure reform has repeatedly become a development priority; and recent research on intensifying competition over land, its intersection with competition over legitimate authority, new types of land transfers, the role of claims of indigeneity or autochthony in land conflicts, and the challenges of increasing social inequality and of commodification of land for analysis and for land reform. Anthropology is best known for its intensive fieldwork—deep immersion in social situations and long-term involvement with social groups—which produces the rich ethnographies that inform debates about land. Equally important is the conceptual contribution by anthropologists in dialogue with the ethnographies as well as with other researchers—the rethinking of concepts and theories used to analyze land relations.

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