Access to land and property is vital to people's livelihoods in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas in Africa. People exert tremendous energy to have land claims recognized as rights with a variety of political, administrative, and legal institutions. This book provides 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 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.
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.
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.