Accepted paper:

Three villages, four years and a printer cartridge


Anne Fitzgerald (National University of Ireland)

Paper short abstract:

Who are the winners and who are the losers in the rush for land titles in three villages in central Tanzania ? Are title deeds and debt a sure way to capitalist development ?

Paper long abstract:

Land formalisation in Tanzania is a controversial issue. Advocates of a neoliberal persuasion including decision makers in the Tanzanian government and World Bank economists contend that titling will lead to tenure security, more productive agriculture and facilitate inward investment in agricultural sector. While local and international scholars and activists regard land titling as a means of increasing land conflicts and facilitating land grabs from rural communities and subsistence farmers. Since 2000 the work of the Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto (2000) has been influential in promoting the view insecurity property rights are a major causative factor in poverty and underdevelopment. He contends that unless the poor are given the means to convert their valuable assets into capital, they will remain poor. In 2004 the Tanzanian government turned to De Soto’s Institute of Liberty for technical advice on the design and implementation of a programme to the formalise the land and property rights of the large informal sector of poor and marginalised Tanzanian citizens. This and other similar initiatives were envisioned to create a market in land and opportunities to take a loan for investment in the business of farming. What do the people of the villages of Sanjaranda, Kitopeni and Gurungu think of land formalisation and how does it fit with the ideas of land holding from a socialist past ? Does formalisation live up to the promises of tenure security and ‘development’ through loans and investment ?

panel IP06
Collaboration, (in)determinacy and the work of translation in development encounters