Land, Mobility, and Belonging in West Africa

Land, Mobility, and Belonging in West Africa

Carola Lentz
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/05/2013
Format: Paperback 17 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-00957-9
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Winner, 2014 Herskovits Award

Focusing on an area of the savannah in northern Ghana and southwestern Burkina Faso, Land, Mobility, and Belonging in West Africa explores how rural populations have secured, contested, and negotiated access to land and how they have organized their communities despite being constantly on the move as farmers or migrant laborers. Carola Lentz seeks to understand how those who claim native status hold sway over others who are perceived to have come later. As conflicts over land, agriculture, and labor have multiplied in Africa, Lentz shows how politics and power play decisive roles in determining access to scarce resources and in changing notions of who belongs and who is a stranger.

Author Bio

Carola Lentz is Professor of Social Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University.


“Illuminates the distinctive historical trajectory of land claims, authority, and belonging among the Dagara and Sisala peoples of the Black Volta region, and locates this specific case history within broader debates over transformation in access, use, and control over land in colonial and postcolonial Africa.”
 — Sara Berry, Johns Hopkins University

“Important in the sense that it constitutes a detailed historical study of how complex narratives of belonging and notions of property interlock. . . . It is academic work of the first order.”
 — Christian Lund, Roskilde University

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Table of Contents

1. Pushing Frontiers: The Social Organisation of Mobility
2. Staking Claims: Earth Shrines, Ritual Power and Property Rights
3. Setting Boundaries, Negotiating Entitlements: Contested Borders and ‘Bundles’ of Rights
4. Ethnicity, Autochthony and the Politics of Belonging
5. History vs. history: Contemporary Land Conflicts in a Context of Legal and Institutional Pluralism

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