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Local Politics and the Dynamics of Property in Africa

$30.99 (C)

  • Date Published: March 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521148511

$ 30.99 (C)
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About the Authors
  • Access to land and property is vital to people’s livelihoods in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas in Africa. People exert tremendous energy and imagination to have land claims recognized as rights with a variety of political, administrative, and legal institutions. This book is dedicated to a detailed analysis of how public authority and the state are formed through debates and struggles over property in the Upper East Region of Ghana. While scarcity may indeed promote exclusivity, the evidence from this book shows that when there are many institutions competing for the right to authorize claims to land, the result of an effort to unify and clarify the law is to intensify competition among them and weaken their legitimacy. The book particularly explores how state divestiture of land in 1979 encouraged competition between customary authorities and how the institution of the earthpriest was revived. Such processes are key to understanding property and authority in Africa.

    • Brief, yet comprehensive
    • Richly referenced
    • New approach: processes of state formation in small institutions, not as macro phenomenon
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Through an exceptionally rich collection of micro-histories of conflict over land and local politics in northeastern Ghana, Local Politics and the Dynamics of Property offers fresh insights into the complex interplay between struggles over land, legal pluralism, and the constitution of public authority in postcolonial Africa. Combining lively narratives with thoughtful commentary on analytical and policy debates in several disciplines, Lund’s study speaks effectively to a wide audience of scholars, students and practitioners."
    Sara Berry, Johns Hopkins University

    "Lund’s subtle and closely-observed studies of small property disputes add up to a big study of politics and the state. A strikingly original contribution to our knowledge of state-formation and political conflict in the context of legal pluralism. Alive with illuminating detail and analytical insight."
    James C. Scott, Yale University

    "Anyone seriously interested in the local struggles produced by land shortage in Africa should read this book. It is a dynamic study of recent political affairs in the Upper East Region of Ghana and the framing ideas that have shaped both the political discussions on the ground and Lund’s analyzes of them."
    Sally Falk Moore, Harvard University

    "This is a major contribution to the anthropology of politics in Africa. It represents a new anthropology of public space and is indispensable to those interested in studying the state, land, and property in Africa. The book offers a subtle, innovative, and stimulating new reading of the primary contributions within legal anthropology and the anthropology of development. The analysis of local politics and land conflicts illuminates the social, institutional, and symbolic construction of property and public authority. Lund’s work is outstanding."
    Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Marseille, and LASDEL, Niamey.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521148511
    • length: 216 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.32kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Local politics and the dynamics of property: an introduction
    2. 'This situation is incongruous in the extreme': the history of land policies in the Upper Regions of Ghana
    3. Who owns Bolgatanga? The revival of the earthpriest and emerging tensions over property
    4. Seizing opportunities: chieftaincy, land and local administration
    5. Settled facts or facts to settle?: land conflicts under institutional uncertainty
    6. 'Bakwu is still volatile': ethno-political conflict and state recognition
    7. The rent of non-enforcement: access to forest resources
    8. Small dams and fluid tenure
    9. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Christian Lund, Roskilde Universitetscenter, Denmark
    Christian Lund has worked on issues concerning land and politics in West Africa for almost twenty years. He is the author of Law, Power, and Politics in Niger: Land Struggles and the Rural Code (1998) and the editor and coeditor, respectively, of Twilight Institutions: Public Authority and Local Politics in Africa (2007) and Negotiating Property in Africa (2002). In addition, he has published in Africa, Development and Change, the Journal of Modern African Studies, and World Development. Lund is a member of the Social Science Research Council in Denmark and director of the Graduate School in International Development Studies at Roskilde University. Lund was also editor of the European Journal of Development Research from 2000 to 2004.

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