Women, Land and Justice in Tanzania

April 2015
1 line illustrations
216 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Eastern Africa Series
ISBN: 9781847011138
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
James Currey
BISAC POL035010, LAW055000, SOC028000

Women, Land and Justice in Tanzania

Helen Dancer

Reveals the impact of Tanzania's land law reforms and the ways in which women's rights to land ownership have been overridden in spite of law.
Recent decades have seen a wave of land law reforms across Africa, in the context of a "land rush" and land-grabbing. But how has this been enacted on the ground and, in particular, how have women experienced this? This book seeks to re-orientate current debates on women's land rights towards a focus on the law in action. Drawing on the author's ethnographic research in the Arusha region of Tanzania, it explores how the country's land law reforms have impacted on women's legal claims to land. Centring on cases involving women litigants, the book considers the extent to which women are realising their interests in land through land courts and follows the progression of women's claims to land - from their social origins through processes of dispute resolution to judgment.
Dancer's work explores three central issues. First, it considers the nature of women's claims to land in Tanzanian family contexts, the value of land in an era of land reform and the 'land rush' across Africa, and the extent to which the social issues raised are addressed by Tanzania's current laws and legal system. Secondly, it examines how agency and power relations between social and legal actors engaged in legal processes affect women's access to justice and the progression of claims. Thirdly, it explores Tanzanian concepts of justice and rights and how women's claims have been judged by land courts in practice.

Helen Dancer is a lecturer in Law at the University of Brighton. She practised as a barrister in England specialising in family legal aid cases prior to training as a legal anthropologist. She is also a consultant for Future Agricultures at IDS, University of Sussex. Her areas of research interest include law and development, gender and land, and human rights and legal pluralism.

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Table of Contents

Social origins of women's claims to land: Gender, family and land tenure in Arusha
Women's claims to land in Tanzania's statutory framework
Making legal claims to land: Agency, power relations and access to justice
Doing justice in women's claims: Haki and equal rights
"Shamba ni langu" (The shamba is mine): A case study of gender, power and law in action


[T]he book addresses the existing legal provisions, deficiencies and achievements of gender equity in land allocation. . . . The book is highly valuable to scholars in conflict studies, law, international studies, diplomacy, development studies and anthropology. AFRICAN STUDIES QUARTERLY

Having seen the author of this book present her work, I had high expectations, and they were not disappointed. This is a well-grounded and carefully thought through study. TANZANIAN AFFAIRS

This is an excellent book that details the micro-level exclusions and difficulties women face in asserting land rights as well as the challenges states face in attempting to accommodate customary land law within egalitarian legal systems. It will be especially interesting to those interested in women's property rights and access to justice under customary law. AFRICAN STUDIES REVIEW

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