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Territorialities, spatial inequalities and the formalization of land rights in Central Benin

Abstract : The formalization of "informal" customary land rights is at the core of current rural land policies in Africa. The dubious impacts of such policies on agricultural production, and the recomposition of land rights and governance they impulse have been largely studied. But their territorial dimensions are hardly acknowledged. Studying the implementation of a rural land rights formalization project in central Benin, this paper highlights the links between territorialization and plot level land rights formalization. It first unpacks the notion of village and presents a conceptual framework for analyzing the superposition and contradiction between customary and administrative territories. Mobilizing two case studies, it then studies the conflicts during formalization operations and their outcomes in terms of land rights mapping and political and administrative change This article shows how the political organization of the territory and the socio-spatial inequalities resulting from the history of settlement shape the results of plot level land rights registration (explaining why large parts of village territories have not been registered) and in return how these registration operations impulse new territorialization processes and increase the heterogeneity of land tenure rights inside the territory. 1 Philippe Lavigne Delville is a socio-anthropologist and senior research officer at IRD (
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Philippe Lavigne Delville, Anne-Claire Moalic. Territorialities, spatial inequalities and the formalization of land rights in Central Benin. Africa, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2019, 89 (2), pp.329-352. ⟨10.1017/S0001972019000111⟩. ⟨ird-02183773⟩

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