“Shamba ni langu” (the shamba is mine): a socio-legal study of women's claims to land in Arusha, Tanzania

Dancer, Helen Elizabeth (2012) “Shamba ni langu” (the shamba is mine): a socio-legal study of women's claims to land in Arusha, Tanzania. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img]
Preview
PDF - Published Version
Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

In the aftermath of a wave of land law reforms across Africa, this thesis seeks to reorientate
current debates on women’s land rights towards a focus on the law in action.
Since the 1970s Tanzania has been at the forefront of African countries giving statutory
recognition to women’s property rights and ‘equal rights’ to land. Equally, ‘customary
law’ incorporating gender discriminatory social practices is recognised as a source of
law in Tanzania’s plural legal system. Centring on disputes involving women litigants
in Tanzania’s specialist system of land courts, this study considers the extent to which
women are realising their interests in land through legal processes of dispute resolution.

The starting-point for the analysis is the legal claims to land which women bring and
defend themselves against in practice. The study draws upon a year of ethnographic
fieldwork, including courtroom observation, archival research and interviews conducted
between January 2009 and January 2010, with particular focus on two districts of
Arusha region. The thesis is structured to reflect the progression of women’s claims to
land, from their social origins through processes of dispute resolution to judgment.

The thesis explores three central issues. Firstly, it considers the nature of women’s
legal claims to land in family contexts, how and to what extent the issues raised are
addressed by Tanzania’s contemporary statutory legal framework. Secondly, it
examines how agency and power relations between actors engaged in the ‘semiautonomous
social field’ of land courts affect women’s access to justice and the
progression of claims. Thirdly, it evaluates the process of doing justice and the way in
which women’s claims are judged by land courts in practice. Particular attention is paid
to how customary practices and judicial attitudes to female land-holding are evolving
with contemporary Tanzanian discourses of justice and equal rights.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K7000 Private international law. Conflict of laws > K7200 Property
K Law > KL-KWK Asia and Eurasia, Africa, Pacific Area, and Antarctica > KR Africa
K Law > KL-KWK Asia and Eurasia, Africa, Pacific Area, and Antarctica > KR Africa > KTT Tanzania
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2013 15:41
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2018 07:02
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/43402

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update