Valuing Land in Eastern Africa

Durham University, 9-10 January  2017. 

Convenors: Cherry Leonardi and Adrian Browne (Durham)

(With funding from the British Institute in Eastern Africa and Durham University)

This workshop will explore the plural and changing forms of value attached to land and territory in Eastern Africa (broadly defined), in historical and contemporary contexts. Increasing competition for land is often taken as a given in recent work on land governance and conflict in this region and beyond. But this raises the obvious question as to what exactly is the subject of this competition or conflict: what is ‘land’ (soil, natural resources, property, homeland, political territory, sacred place, social space, cultural landscape), what generates its value(s), and how do these values intersect? There are also questions about the historicity of land values, disputes and transactions: how do more recent concerns over land or processes of commoditisation emerge from longer histories of valuing land and territory? The workshop will bring together different disciplinary and methodological approaches to these questions, reflecting some of the range of recent scholarship on land issues in Africa. Participants will receive detailed feedback on their draft papers from leading experts in the field: Catherine Boone, Professor of Comparative Politics at the LSE; Ambreena Manji, Professor of Land Law and Development at Cardiff University; and Elizabeth Watson, Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Cambridge. It is expected that revised papers will subsequently be submitted for consideration to the journal Critical African Studies for a special issue on ‘Valuing Land in Eastern Africa’.