‘Emerging forms of spatialised and socialised authority’ among ‘tenure-insecure peri-urbanites’ in African peri-urban spaces A review study

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Johannes Bhanye https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9658-7755


land, urban poor, migrants, peri-urban, tenure insecurity, emerging forms of authority, Africa


This paper explores the ‘emerging forms of spatialised and socialised authority’ adopted by tenure-insecure peri-urbanites to secure coveted land in African peri-urban spaces. The paper demonstrates that tenure-insecure peri-urbanites are increasingly utilising various formal and informal institutions – ‘emerging forms of spatialised and socialised authority’, in the form of state functionaries, political party allegiance, traditional leaders, cooperatives, lobbying groups, legal courts, and religion and the occult to access and secure land in African peri-urban spaces. The review demonstrates how land remains of economic, social and emotional importance among tenure-insecure peri-urbanites. It further indicates that tenure-insecure peri-urbanites are not passive but ‘nimble-footed and responsive’, as they find ways to secure land by drawing on various normative orders like the courts and sometimes through evasion, patronage, performance and other means of conviviality. The paper also highlights the complex power dynamics characterising peri-urban areas and underscores the need for a nuanced understanding of the multiple actors involved in land governance. The paper recommends the need for effective and inclusive mechanisms of access and security over land to balance the interests of diverse actors and promote the rights of tenure-insecure peri-urbanites in peri-urban spaces. Overall, the paper helps to broaden the scope of actors that need to be engaged in the planning and governance of peri-urban spaces in the age of complex peri-urbanisation processes.


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