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African Land Questions, Agrarian Transitions and the State

Contradictions of Neo-Liberal Land Reforms

Sam Moyo

Publication Year: 2008

This empirically grounded study provides a critical reflection on the land question in Africa, research on which tends to be tangential, conceptually loose and generally inadequate. It argues that the most pressing research concern must be to understand the precise nature of the African land question, its land reforms and their effects on development. To unravel the roots of land conflicts in Africa requires thorough understanding of the complex social and political contradictions which have ensued from colonial and post-colonial land policies, as well as from Africa's 'development' and capital accumulation trajectories, especially with regard to the land rights of the continent's poor. The study thus questions the capacity of emerging neo-liberal economic and political regimes in Africa to deliver land reforms which address growing inequality and poverty. It equally questions the understanding of the nature of popular demands for land reforms by African states, and their ability to address these demands under the current global political and economic structures dictated by neo-liberalism and its narrow regime of ownership. The study invites scholars and policy makers to creatively draw on the specific historical trajectories and contemporary expression of the land and agrarian questions in Africa, to enrich both theory and practice on land in Africa.

Published by: African Books Collective

About the Author

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

List of Boxes and Tables

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pp. vii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-5

In recent times Africa’s land question has received growing research and policy attention largely because of concern over persistent food insecurity and rural poverty. Yet the incidence of increased conflict over land rights has not been sufficiently studied. In some countries citizenship...

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2. Conceptual Issues and Perspectives on the Land and Agrarian Question

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pp. 6-27

Recent debates on the land and agrarian question raise doubts about the relevance of land reform in the current context of globalisation. Some argue that in the era of unipolar power relations, neo-liberalism has resolved the agrarian question in the north through a process...

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3. African Land Questions: Trends and Tendencies

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pp. 28-90

Access to and control and ownership of land in Africa is differentiated. It tends towards unequal patterns of land concentration, exclusion from land for basic livelihood requirements or for primary accumulation, and marginalisation in terms of territorial space...

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4. Gender Land Inequalities and Tenure Insecurity

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pp. 91-97

Cutting across unequal and discriminatory patterns and structures of land distribution, land tenure and land use, is the land question with regard to gender inequality. The key land question here remains women’s access to and control of land, which is inadequate and constrained...

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5. The African State, Land Reform and Politics

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pp. 98-121

This chapter examines the experience with land reforms in Africa, with particular emphasis on the role of the state, in the light of the peculiar factors and the empirical trends which distinguish the African land question. We comment broadly on the African state...

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6. Social Movements, Civil Society and Land Reform

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pp. 122-137

Because of the centrality of access to land in the livelihoods of the majority of Africans, demands for land reforms have grown. These demands are expressed in different forms depending on the nature of social forces which articulate them. But the literature...

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7. Conclusions and Suggested Research Directions

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pp. 138-144

The African continent faces a critical land question in terms of both contemporary equity and historical social justice issues. A large proportion of the African population will for some time depend on land and natural resources for their basic social reproduction...


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pp. 145


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pp. 146-159

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9782869783843
Print-ISBN-13: 9782869782020

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2008