Customary authority and commons governance

Authored by: Frank Matose , Phil René Oyono , James Murombedzi

Routledge Handbook of the Study of the Commons

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138060906
eBook ISBN: 9781315162782
Adobe ISBN:


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Debates are raging about whether we are witnessing the re-emergence, resilience or merely recasting of customary authority, and the emasculation of customary authority in Africa (Lund 2008; Nuesiri 2014; Baldwin 2016). Customary authority is used with reference to some locally or ethnic-based rule systems, that may have layered jurisdictional boundaries, and whose governance is presided over by some ‘traditional’ leadership, including chiefs. This is particularly relevant in relation to customary authorities’ engagement with state and non-state actors in re-inventing their identities and roles in a globalizing world and due to democratic transitions and wide-ranging tenure reforms (Baldwin 2016), on the one hand, and, on the other, their performance in community representation in commons governance (Ntsebeza 2006; Cousins 2008; Taha 2016). As the above-mentioned three processes have been taking hold, what are the implications and impacts for commons governance in Africa? How have these three processes shaped or been shaped by commons governance? Who has gained and lost as these processes have evolved?

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