The latest Special issue of Africa, guest Edited by Professors Christian Lund and Catherine Boone, examines how institutions and actors attempt to create and assert authority to determine access to land, and to exercise land control. We ask Christian Lund what the motivation was behind the issue and why this subject is of such importance.

In putting together this special issue, our intention was to focus on the larger political dimensions and meanings of land tenure rules and dynamics.  In some of the papers, this means scaling-up to see how these land rules and relations are interwoven into larger political structures and practices, such as national citizenship regimes.  Other papers focus on the micro-level relationships around land that are power-laden.  One of our concerns was to highlight variation in land regimes, and to pose questions about how these matter for politics. Property and citizenship are closely connected, and land, more than most issues in Africa, connects the two aspects intimately: Claims to land are partly defined by social identity, and social identity is partly defined through property rights to land. In fact, we suggest that this dynamic connection is valid for postcolonial societies in general – and that it is a rewarding analytical entry point for the analysis of power and politics in any society.

A particular strength of this collection is its multi-disciplinarity. Contributors come from anthropology, political science, history, sociology and development studies. This is the source of some analytic tension that we hope will be productive in spurring more analysis and debate, especially around questions of structure versus fluidity in conceptualizing land relations, culture and individual strategies, and the possibility of discerning directionality in processes of land tenure changes. 

Read the Introduction from Christian Lund and Catherine Boone here without charge until the 31st March 2013

You can access the entire Special Issue until the end of 2013 by registering on Cambridge Journals Online and entering the Offer Code LANDPOL13

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