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Brodin, Nils, 2020. Land in Limbo : property in land beyond the effective control of political authority along the Zambian railway. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Because of population clustering, it is increasingly difficult for the rural poor to access land in
Zambia. Such a clustered space is along the line-of-rail, where more people are looking to make use
of land. Simultaneously, in a country where multiple political authorities can perform recognition
of land, people also have to balance and navigate within this pluralistic political landscape to enjoy
secure access and use of land. As such, property has the potential to improve security and create
legitimacy to land. Within 100 yards along the railway, land is in administrative limbo due to the
lack of effective control by its legal owner, the state. This thesis investigates the property production
in land occupied by rural people along the railway in Southern Province, Zambia, through
ethnographic and interview-based fieldwork. With a widened understanding of property that goes
beyond juridical interpretations inseparable from law, I show how property making abandons
formalised scripts, and instead is performed through contextual and localised orders. Occupants of
land along the railway put labour and material investments into the land to reinforce legitimacy,
both among each other as well as when facing political authority. With the state as formal owners
of railway land, chiefs and headmen (i.e. customary authority) get squeezed by engaging in
administering the land since it is outside of their legal jurisdiction. At the same time, state authority
also administers and recognizes land, albeit implicitly, when maintenance workers survey the
railway tracks. I conclude that these findings together create a whole greater than the sum of its parts
of how property production can take place on land in limbo.

Main title:Land in Limbo
Subtitle:property in land beyond the effective control of political authority along the Zambian railway
Authors:Brodin, Nils
Supervisor:Rosén, Linus
Examiner:Clay, Nathan and Fischer, Harry
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2020
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM009 Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:land, property, political authority, recognition, materiality, Zambia
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Development economics and policies
Deposited On:07 Oct 2020 07:40
Metadata Last Modified:08 Oct 2020 01:03

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