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Accueil du site → Doctorat → États-Unis → 1995 → The nature of the land : Tenure in an uncertain environment (in two communities of rural Senegal)

Washington State University (1995)

The nature of the land : Tenure in an uncertain environment (in two communities of rural Senegal)

Grigsby, William J..

Titre : The nature of the land : Tenure in an uncertain environment (in two communities of rural Senegal)

Auteur : Grigsby, William J..

Etablissement de soutenance : Washington State University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1995

This study examines the nature and dynamics of land tenure in two communities of rural Senegal. Tenure change is critical to debates about economic development in Africa. Some blame customary tenure’s communal character and inflexibility for discouraging agricultural investment and commercialization, recommending interventions promoting greater security and investment through privatization or individualization of land rights. Others allege tenure’s flexibility, contending that development of individual property rights often follows new commercial opportunities that increase land’s economic value. This study’s findings suggest that customary tenure is multifaceted, and its malleability uneven across this diversity. Three factors critical to its immediate understanding, and which suggest themselves as potential variables in the analysis of customary tenure in general, include : environmental uncertainty, leading to practices that minimize or distribute risks posed by drought, fire and animals ; subsistence ethic, reflected in cultural norms and social practices emphasizing reciprocal exchange, community relations and avoidance of conflict over land, valuing use over ownership ; patriarchal control, reflected in patrilineal transfer of land, and control over staple grain production by patriarchal heads of household. The breadth of these variables suggests land tenure is not some isolable economic phenomenon, but rather a product of environmental constraints and a central feature of culture, village economy and social structure. Customary tenure indeed poses barriers to commercialization, largely attributable to notions of property and patriarchal control over food production. Yet change is occurring. The evidence, though preliminary, suggests an overarching process of rationalization, in which communities are increasingly embedded and subordinated within organizational networks of economic and political power. Via rationalization, these power networks are historically reconfigured, as the "substantive" rationality reflecting the underlying logic of customary tenure is displaced by the formal rationality embodied in market exchange and state-sponsored initiatives to register land, and which is inattentive to the harsh realities of the Sahelian environment. Interhousehold reciprocity gradually yields to accumulation, and the meanings of risk and subsistence will likely be transformed in ways that produce environmental degradation and social stratification increasingly based on household wealth differentials

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