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Ambiguous Title Deeds: Contesting Values of Land and Documents in Eldoret, Kenya

Badoux, Miriam. (2018) Ambiguous Title Deeds: Contesting Values of Land and Documents in Eldoret, Kenya. Critical African Studies, 10 (1). pp. 31-46.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/65134/

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Abstract

This paper explores changing values of land and title deeds through a case study of the Langas land dispute in Eldoret, a secondary city of about 300,000 people in Kenya's Rift Valley. Spanning Kenya's postcolonial history and taking place in the context of rapid urbanization, the Langas land dispute is emblematic of the complexity and persistence of land matters in the country. Based on ethnographic data collected between 2014 and 2016, this paper traces actors in the conflict, showing how the disputed area developed from a farm in the so-called White Highlands to Eldoret's largest informal settlement. The case study suggests that legal documents have gained significance in the past few decades, but it also shows that title deeds are deeply ambiguous. Sometimes respected for their 'sanctity', sometimes contested because of alleged forgery, title deeds have become the object of popular fantasy, conveying hopes and dreams of a better future. While land titles are assumed to enhance security of tenure and eradicate multiple ownership claims, I argue that they add layers of complexity to the repertoires actors mobilize to support or contest claims and that they thus expand the ways in which land can be valued.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Fachbereich Ethnologie
04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Fachbereich Ethnologie > Visuelle und politische Ethnologie (Förster)
UniBasel Contributors:Badoux, Miriam
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:2040-7211
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:14 Nov 2018 15:14
Deposited On:14 Nov 2018 15:14

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