Decentering Emergent Truths on Tenure Security: Genealogy of a Global Knowledge Regime

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2019

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"Land governance has taken center stage in global development discourse and practice, with widespread support from international financial institutions, governments, the private sector and civil society. 'Respect for land rights', 'women’s land rights' and 'tenure security' have emerged as central concepts, with tenure formalization and detailed procedural guidelines for community consultation emerging as the key instruments through which these aims are advanced. A long history of scholarship questioning the benefits of titling and consultation and highlighting associated risks for customary rights holders seems to have been buried under the enthusiasm of this new global consensus. This paper aims to explain this paradox by exploring the inner workings of an emergent global knowledge regime in which the socially progressive language of respect for local land rights is deployed to advance instrumentalities which are equally likely to pry open as to safeguard communal land in the face of outside interests."

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