Land Law Reform in Eastern Africa: Traditional or Transformative?: A critical review of 50 years of land law reform in Eastern Africa 1961 – 2011, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Land Law Reform in Eastern Africa: Traditional or Transformative?

A critical review of 50 years of land law reform in Eastern Africa 1961 – 2011, 1st Edition

By Patrick McAuslan


286 pages

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Land Law Reform in East Africa reviews development and changes in the statutory land laws of 7 countries in Eastern Africa over the period 1961 – 2011. The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 sets up the conceptual framework for consideration of the reforms, and pursues a contrast between transformational and traditional developments; where the former aim at change designed to ensure social justice in land laws, and the latter aim to continue the overall thrust of colonial approaches to land laws and land administration. Part 2 provides an in-depth and critical survey of the land law reforms introduced into each country during the era of land law reform which commenced around 1990. The overall effect of the reforms has, Patrick McAuslan argues, been traditional: it was colonial policy to move towards land markets, individualisation of land tenure and the demise of customary tenure, all of which characterise the post 1990 reforms. The culmination of over 50 years of working in this area, Land Law Reform in East Africa will be invaluable reading for scholars of land law, and of law and development more generally.


Land Law Reform in Eastern Africa offers a wealth of scholarly analysis and informed opinion. Patrick McAuslan… draws on his wide experience as an international consultant to produce a very useful, well-researched study. - Alec McEwen for Geomatica (Vol 67, No.4, 2013)

All of East Africa, law students, members of the judiciary – including Kenya’s Chief Justice, Willy Mutunga – deans of law schools, government ministers, and UN officials have been taught by McAuslan, worked with him, and been profoundly influenced by his writing… As such the book forms an important record, for scholars of land politics, of the rise and rise of land law reform in Africa. But more than this, McAuslan provides a wide-ranging review of the most important themes in land law in the region, a frank assessment of issues he might have tackled differently when advising on statutory reform, and a clear agenda for future research. - Ambreena Manji for Journal of Law and Society (Vol 41, No. 2, June 2014)

There is an enormous amount of rich, original material here, based both on the author’s extensive first-hand experiences in all the countries covered (bar Mozambique), and his knowledge of the scholarly literature. - Robin Palmer for African Affairs

Table of Contents

Introduction: The conceptual framework of the paper; PART 1: From c.1961 to c.1990:Chapter 1: An overview of the land laws at independence; Chapter 2: 1961 – c.1990: The lack of any land reform; Chapter 3: Two case studies from this era; PART 2: The era of land law reform c.1990 onwards; Chapter 4: The global intellectual climate for land law reform; Chapter 5: Zanzibar; Chapter 6: Mozambique; Chapter 7: Uganda; Chapter 8: Tanzania; Chapter 9: Somaliland; Chapter 10: Rwanda; Chapter 11: Kenya; Chapter 12: Urban planning law reform in the region; Chapter 13: Gender and land law in the region ' Chapter 14:Transformational, traditional or political: the reforms assessed; Appendix; Table of principal land laws 1961 – 2012; References

About the Author

Patrick McAuslan MBE is Professor of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London

About the Series

Law, Development and Globalization

During the past two decades, a substantial transformation of law and legal institutions in developing and transition countries has taken place. Whether prompted by the policy prescriptions of the so-called Washington consensus, the wave of  democratization, the international human rights movement or the emergence of new social movements, no area of law has been left untouched. This massive transformation is attracting the attention of legal scholars, as well as scholars from other disciplines, such as politics, economics, sociology, anthropology and history. This diversity is valuable because it promotes cross-disciplinary dialogue and cooperation. It is also important because today the study of law cannot ignore the process of globalization, which is multifaceted and thus calls for inter-disciplinary skills and perspectives. Indeed, as globalization deepens, legal institutions at the national level are influenced and shaped by rules, practices and ideas drawn, imposed or borrowed from abroad.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Land Use
LAW / Legal History
LAW / Agricultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries