Land rights in Africa are rooted in a range of social and economic relationships. Of particular significance are the consequences of the rapid collapse of communal tenure systems through increased commodification of land. The panel aims to address these processes from a gender perspective.
Land rights in Africa are more than just the ownership of land. They are openly rooted in a range of social, political and economic relationships and units including households and kinship networks with multiple identities that are often overlapping and layered in character. Understanding the current trends in land tenure and land rights commodification and appropriation by powerful stakeholders is crucial for engaging relevant processes of social and political change within African societies. Of particular significance are the alternative avenues eventuated by the rapid collapse of communal tenure systems through the increased commodification and subsequent privatization of land. In this situation legal pluralism has the contradictory effect of opening up opportunities to negotiate land rights and resist the appropriation of land by the state, capitalist enterprise and other agents and eroding traditional avenues for groups like women and migrants to access land. Despite the plethora of research and political activism around issues of land grabbing and land commodification in Africa, their gender dimensions are often neglected. Yet, regulatory frameworks of land tenure, be it commons-based traditional institutions or formalized private based titling systems are directly shaped by power relations like gender, class, and race. The panel wants address these issues using an intersectional lens and looking at the overlapping and reinforcing of multiple forms of belonging in the process of land grabbing, land titling and land commodification.