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Accepted Paper:

Property relations in peri-urban Ghana: the local face of global processes  
Raluca Pernes (Babes-Bolyai University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at property relations in a peri-urban Ghanaian context that provides a window into the links between local mechanisms such as legal pluralism and the valorization of tradition on the one hand, and global processes of land commoditization and accumulation on the other hand.

Paper long abstract:

Most discussions about property relations in West Africa focus on the complexity of making claims over lands within competing normative orders, as is the case in countries that have maintained legally plural regimes since independence. From this standpoint, it looks as if the context is really specific: land struggles, constantly on the agenda over the last few decades, are fuelled by customary law and statutory law functioning in parallel. This paper aims to show that the aforementioned approach risks losing sight of the fact that the recent intensification of land struggles takes place in a context mainly moulded by processes that are equally relevant at a global scale: the continuing concentration of populations in urban areas, international migration and the impact of remittances, the massive commodification of lands, and the firm absorption of the global south in global production and consumption networks. The idea of autochthony and the fetishization of tradition - which, in the aftermath of the failure of structural adjustment programmes, has re-entered the good graces of most, including the international financial institutions - are central for the discussion about land rights in the West African space. However, in actual practice they become modes of repacking and legitimizing power relations and structures of inequality that are far from being context-specific.

I illustrate these mechanisms by looking at the case of the periurban location in the South of Ghana.

Panel P046
Knowledge(s) of the past, present and future in a changing Africa [Africanists Network]
  Session 1