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Variations of customary tenure, chiefly power, and global norms for responsible land investments in Sierra Leone

Dieterle, Carolin (2023) Variations of customary tenure, chiefly power, and global norms for responsible land investments in Sierra Leone. African Affairs, 122 (487). 245 - 267. ISSN 0001-9909

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Identification Number: 10.1093/afraf/adad009

Abstract

In response to debates around land grabbing, the international community has increasingly developed and promoted global governance norms and guidelines for more responsible land investments. This concern on the part of the international community has particularly taken hold in Sierra Leone—in a post-war context, in which international donor agencies are already steering much of the country’s politics. Yet, despite the enormous influence of international guidelines and the actors promoting their use, there is a spatial variation in the conformity to and effectiveness of such norms in cases of land investments. While some projects seem to resemble ‘showcases’ for their exemplary use, these guidelines seem to be absent in other projects. This article analyses the political economy of customary land tenure, land investments, and international ‘soft laws’ in Sierra Leone. Based on 6 months of fieldwork in Sierra Leone in 2019, I compare several cases of large-scale land investments. I argue that there are important variations in the customary tenure system in the degree to which political authority over land is centralized in the authority of the paramount chief or is devolved to landholding families. This, I suggest, holds important implications for the uptake of global norms for ‘responsible’ investments.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://academic.oup.com/afraf
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s).
Divisions: International Development
Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 16 May 2023 11:51
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 16:03
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/119205

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