People, Place and Property Rights: A Political Ethnography of Land in Molo, Kenya

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For more than a century, property rights to land in Molo in the Kenyan highlands have been subjected to diverse reforms and desires. Colonial and independent state administrations have restructured land tenure systems to establish and maintain authority or alleviate landlessness. Meanwhile, people on the ground have developed their own ideas about property rights, place, and people. Via a detailed political ethnography, Ulrika Kolben Waaranpera uncovers the heterodox notion of property rights that has emerged as land has been redistributed, settlement schemes established, electricity lines drawn, and electoral violence mobilized.

The book makes an important contribution to the study of land and politics in Kenya and beyond by drawing attention to how conceptions of property rights are shaped by and constitutive of relations of belonging and authority. This relational view challenges the universal definition of property rights undergirding most contemporary land reforms. Instead, property rights are situated within the political and rendered legible for both definitional and distributional debates. In effect, land reform is posited as a fundamentally political undertaking.

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Taylor & Francis Ltd
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