Land Grabbing, the State and Chiefs: The Politics of Extending Commercial Agriculture in Ghana

Lanz, Kristina Verena; Gerber, Jean-David; Haller, Tobias (2018). Land Grabbing, the State and Chiefs: The Politics of Extending Commercial Agriculture in Ghana. Development and Change, 49(6), pp. 1526-1552. Wiley 10.1111/dech.12429

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Since 2006, Ghana has experienced a wave of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) for agricultural purposes. Although these acquisitions are enabled by favourable agricultural and investment policies, investors nevertheless generally negotiate directly with traditional authorities, often bypassing state authorities in the acquisition process. The strength of customary authorities is often attributed to the weakness of the state. Considering historical political precedents, this article argues that chiefs in fact increasingly derive their power and legitimacy from state and donor policy. Chiefs play a crucial role in translating the (inter)national investment and development logic into local customary settings which are characterized by complex and overlapping use rights to land and natural resources. Using data from an LSLA in Ghana’s Volta Region, this study shows how chiefs continuously redefine and adapt the customary land tenure system and its intricate governance logic to the globalized neoliberal policy setting, readily switching between different institutional settings (institution shopping) to legitimize their actions. Those whose rights under customary tenure are least secure are most likely to lose out in the process of institutional change from common to private property, while those with close connections to the customary elite are most likely to benefit from LSLAs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Human Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Human Geography > Unit Urban & Regional Planing

UniBE Contributor:

Lanz, Kristina Verena; Gerber, Jean-David and Haller, Tobias

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
700 Arts > 710 Landscaping & area planning
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics
900 History > 910 Geography & travel

ISSN:

1467-7660

Publisher:

Wiley

Language:

English

Submitter:

Thomas Reist

Date Deposited:

03 Dec 2018 09:54

Last Modified:

03 Dec 2018 09:54

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/dech.12429

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.121268

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/121268

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