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Corporate land acquisitions at the intersection of lineage and patronage networks in Cameroon

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/09/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Modern African Studies
Issue number3
Volume59
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)319-341
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date26/08/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Despite the proliferation of literature on large-scale land acquisitions (LSLA) in
Africa, few empirical studies exist on how patronage networks combine with sociocultural stratification to determine the livelihood outcomes for African agrarian based communities. This article draws from ethnographic research on Cameroon to contribute to bridging this gap. We argue that lineage and patronage considerations intersect to determine beneficiaries and losers during LSLA. Second, we show that LSLA tend to re-entrench existing inequalities in power relations that exist within communities in favour of people with traceable ancestral lineage. Concomitantly, non-indigenous groups especially migrants bear the brunt of exclusion and are unfortunately exposed to severe livelihood stresses due to their inability to leverage patronage networks and political power to defend their interests. We submit that empirical examination of the impacts of land acquisitions should consider the centrality of power and patronage networks between indigenes and non-indigenes, and how this socio-cultural dichotomy restricts and/or mediates land acquisition outcomes in Cameroon.