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Lineage and Land Reforms in Malawi: Do Matrilineal and Patrilineal Landholding Systems Represent a Problem for Land Reforms in Malawi?

Author

Listed:
  • Berge, Erling

    () (Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

  • Kambewa, Daimon

    (University of Malawi)

  • Munthali, Alister

    (Research Fellow at CSR)

  • Wiig, Henrik

    (NIBR)

Abstract

This paper is about land tenure relations among the matrilineal and patrilineal cultures in Malawi. Data from the National Agricultural and Livestock Census are used to characterize marriage systems and settlement and landholding patterns for local communities. Marriage systems correspond to customary land tenure patterns of matrilineal or patrilineal land holding. The differences between the two major ways of land holding represent a particular challenge for land reforms intending to unify rules for land tenure and land devolution. The paper discusses the problems of formalisation and the idea of maintaining the diversity. If diversity is not respected there is a chance that some sections of society, especially communities with matrilineal land holding, might be victims of formalization. Based on analogy of the resilience of the patrilineal land holding system in Norway it is argued that a democratic system will have difficulty removing the preferential rights of linage members and it is recommended that the existing land rights are formally recognized and circumscribed by fair procedures. In a situation of diversity one goal of a well-designed land holding system should be to ease the transitions of the diverse customary tenure systems towards systems adapted to the requirements of a modern large scale society rather than to a unified national system.

Suggested Citation

  • Berge, Erling & Kambewa, Daimon & Munthali, Alister & Wiig, Henrik, 2013. "Lineage and Land Reforms in Malawi: Do Matrilineal and Patrilineal Landholding Systems Represent a Problem for Land Reforms in Malawi?," CLTS Working Papers 9/13, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nlsclt:2013_009
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    File URL: http://www.umb.no/statisk/clts/papers/clts_wp09_2013.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. J.-P. Colin & M. Ayouz, 2006. "The development of a land market? Insights from Côte d'Ivoire," Post-Print hal-00719280, HAL.
    2. Frode Flemsæter & Gunhild Setten, 2009. "Holding property in trust: kinship, law, and property enactment on Norwegian smallholdings," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 41(9), pages 2267-2284, September.
    3. Pauline Peters & Daimon Kambewa, 2007. "Whose Security? Deepening Social Conflict over ‘Customary’ Land in the Shadow of Land Tenure Reform in Malawi," CID Working Papers 142, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    matrilinea; uxorilocal; patrilinea; virilocal; land tenur; inheritance; access rights; use rights; ownership rights; Malawi;

    JEL classification:

    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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