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Negotiating Property Institutions: On The Symbiosis Of Property And Authority In Africa

By: Christian Lund

The author argues for a broad approach to property and the processes of its recognition. Property is never more certain and secure than the processes of its recognition allow, and it is, in principle, always at stake. Furthermore, the institutions that sanction property rights are equally at stake, in particular in situations of institutional pluralism. Their legitimate authority is produced as people recognize the property rights they sanction, and it may wither if other institutions are successful in positioning themselves as legitimate authorities. Drawing on a case study from Burkina Faso, the author attempts to demonstrate how notions of property are contextually defined, and how various institutions negotiate property and are, by the same token, negotiated.