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Accepted Paper:

Acting on uncertainty: Property making as temporal agency amid the rush for land in northern Kenya  
Hannah Elliott (Copenhagen Business School)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the temporal politics and moralities of property making amid the rush for land in northern Kenya and uncertainty regarding future land ownership, reform, registration and titling.

Paper long abstract:

Having long been considered a backwater region lacking economic potential, northern Kenya has recently been reimagined as a new frontier for economic growth. Land shortage in central Kenya and assumptions about unused, empty land in the north’s pastoralist commons have been key to this shift, and have propelled a speculative rush for land amid uncertainty about prospective land reform, registration and titling, in particular around the town of Isiolo. This paper follows ordinary Isiolo residents at the forefront of this rush as they went about what I term ‘propertying’: collective and individual practices of claiming exclusive ownership of plots of land. Propelled by anxieties of dispossession, displacement and of others getting there first, propertying was a form of temporal agency – of acting on an anticipated future. The paper focuses on the complex temporal politics and moralities of propertying within this speculative economy. Propertying was a means of securing a place in the future, while also fulfilling forward-moving temporal aspirations of development and propriety. Yet displays of excessive agency with regard to propertying could arouse suspicion and concerns about misfortune, ultimately sending residents backwards. This came to temper and shape how residents went about their propertying as they strove to secure inclusion in the future city.

Panel P033
Timing property: Speculation amidst scarcity in property accumulation and investment
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -