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Inequality and social conflict over land in Africa

Geographic relevance: Africa

Language: Inglés

Data type: Legal references

Author(s): Pauline E. Peters

Publication details: Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 4 No. 3, July, pp. 269–314,2004

About this resource:

The  paper  proposes  that  reports  of  pervasive  competition  and  conflict  overland in sub-Saharan Africa belie a current image of negotiable and adaptive customary systems of landholding and land use but, instead, reveal processes of exclusion, deepening social divisions and class formation.

Cases of ambiguous and indeterminate outcomes among claimants over land do occur, but the instances of intensifying conflict over land, deepening social rifts and expropriation  of  land  beg  for  closer  attention.

More  emphasis  needs  to  be  placed  by analysts  on  who  benefits  and  who  loses  from  instances  of  ‘negotiability’  in access to land, an analysis that, in turn, needs to be situated in broader political, economic and social changes taking place, particularly during the past thirty or so years.

This requires a theoretical move away from privileging contingency,flexibility and negotiability that, willy-nilly, ends by suggesting an open field, to one  that is able to  identify those situations  and processes (including  com-modification, structural adjustment, market liberalisation and globalisation) that limit or end negotiation and flexibility for certain social groups or categories.

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