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Land, State-Building, and Political Authority in Africa

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Abstract

This dissertation examines the effect of customary institutions on the state’s control over property rights, in an era of booming demand for African agricultural land. Through the cases of Zambia and Senegal, the dissertation argues that this modern state-building process is constrained and facilitated differently according to variation in pre-colonial organization. Two key processes for building the state’s authority over land are examined. First, I demonstrate that historically hierarchical customary authorities are more likely to resist large-scale land acquisitions by the state and multinational corporations. Second, I show that small-scale farmers strategically title their land in response to their status within the customary regime. Analysis of original geo-coded survey data, case studies, archival research, and a database of land titles compiled over 18 months of fieldwork demonstrate how the organization of customary institutions determines the development of state property rights.

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2017-01-30

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Political science; resource allocation; customary authority; land titling; political institutions; property rights; state-building

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Committee Chair

van de Walle, Nicolas

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Herring, Ronald J
Pepinsky, Thomas

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Government

Degree Name

Ph. D., Government

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document

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dissertation or thesis

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