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The footprints of history: path dependence in the transformation of property rights in Kenya's Maasailand

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  • MWANGI, ESTHER

Abstract

The recent wave of subdivision of Maasai group ranches is not an isolated event, but rather part of a broader, historical process of transformation in land relations and policy development in Maasailand. Maasai have over time supported land privatization, first by formalizing collective rights in group ranches and more recently by individualizing collective land holdings. Privatization is perceived to be an effective strategy for safeguarding Maasai land claims against appropriation by non-Maasai, the government and elite Maasai. Construction of the Uganda railway in early twentieth century and the subsequent influx of European settlers who were granted individual title to secure their investments are events that began the institutional path of privatization. The persistence and dominance of individualized arrangements regardless of other more optimal property rights options is a result of the dominance of elite interests (supported by state institutions) even as state imposed institutions replaced Maasai customary systems of land allocation.

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  • Mwangi, Esther, 2006. "The footprints of history: path dependence in the transformation of property rights in Kenya's Maasailand," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 157-180, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jinsec:v:2:y:2006:i:02:p:157-180_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Leeson, Peter T. & Harris, Colin, 2018. "Wealth-destroying private property rights," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-9.
    2. Mwangi, Esther, 2007. "Subdividing the Commons: Distributional Conflict in the Transition from Collective to Individual Property Rights in Kenya's Maasailand," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 815-834, May.
    3. Peter T. Leeson & Colin Harris & Andrew Myers, 2021. "Kornai goes to Kenya," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 187(1), pages 99-110, April.
    4. Esther Mwangi, 2009. "Property rights and governance of Africa's rangelands: A policy overview," Natural Resources Forum, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 160-170, May.
    5. Teresiah Wairimu Ng’ang’a & Jeanne Y. Coulibaly & Todd A. Crane & Charles K. Gachene & Geoffrey Kironchi, 2020. "Propensity to adapt to climate change: insights from pastoralist and agro-pastoralist households of Laikipia County, Kenya," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 161(3), pages 393-413, August.
    6. Mwangi, Esther, 2006. "Subdividing the commons: the politics of property rights transformation in Kenya's Maasailand," CAPRi working papers 46, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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