Real property is high in demand in Africa's growing cities. This makes it important to be able to claim ownership. This panel invites papers that look at urban property disputes taking place in times of fragility and/or transition.
With high urbanization rates, pressure on available resources is increasing in Africa's cities; vacant real property is limited, prices of plots and houses are rapidly increasing. In Africa's unstable regions, urbanization can be further accelerated because of the influx of refugees or internally displaced persons in search of security. Processes of urbanization make it important for people to be able to claim their rights of ownership. However, in fragile and transitional settings it is often difficult to settle ownership claims; for instance because of formal registration related matters: being too expensive, or registration procedures being corrupt; or because property laws inherited from older regimes are being contested under new ones, or the multiplicity of tenure regimes: state and non-state based. An alternative, less formal way to claim property, in such cases, is to simply take it. When widespread, such acts can add to the fragility of the state and prolong transitional periods. This panel invites papers that primarily but not exclusively look at urban property disputes that take place in times of fragility and/or transition. We will analyse the dynamics of such disputes, the paths people choose to claim their rights, formal or informal, and the challenges they face in unstable contexts. We will derive our examples from different corners of Africa, such as Libya, South Sudan and the DRC. For reasons of comparison, we also welcome contributions from more stable settings.