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Title:Gender, authority, and the politics of land in Lesotho
Author(s):Fogelman, Charles Joseph
Director of Research:Bassett, Thomas J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bassett, Thomas J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Birkenholtz, Trevor; Kalipeni, Ezekiel; Ribot, Jesse L
Department / Program:Geography & Geographic InfoSci
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Land tenure
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Critical cartography
Land reform
Abstract:This dissertation explores the logic, methods, and outcomes of a U.S. government-sponsored land reform in Lesotho, Southern Africa. The reform was part of a $363 million grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation to the Kingdom of Lesotho that funded a sweeping change. Instead of local chiefs administering and allocating land, the power shifted to bureaucrats and landholders, who received leasehold titles to their land. In the first empirical chapter, I question the novelty of post-2000 development strategies, in particular the MCC and its ethos of ‘poverty reduction through economic growth.’ Using land as a lens, I explore recent eras of development assistance and ask if the Millennium-era has been appreciably different from pre-2000 development. In the second empirical chapter, I investigate the measurement, evaluation, and data usage of the MCC to argue that too short-term a measurement horizon can mask the true outcome of a development intervention. I argue that the agency's short assessment timeframe obscured the reality of the reform. When the MCC's five-year project in Lesotho, which explicitly targeted women's land access, ended in 2013, the land reform appeared to have been a success. However, only a year later, the reality looked much different in one village. Rather than having their land access secured or enhanced by the law, women in the village were being dispossessed by real estate developers, with the assistance of government bureaucrats. MCC's short-term data and measurement of outcomes, instead of the structures, mechanisms, and vulnerabilities that determine those outcomes, concealed a significant problem with the project. This illustrates both a problem with data-driven development projects, and a possible way to improve them. The third empirical chapter explores the role of maps and mapping in Lesotho's land reform. Maps are instrumental in the commodification of land and its exchange in markets. The critical cartography literature emphasizes the “power of maps” to (re)define property relations through their descriptive and prescriptive attributes. But how do maps work to achieve these outcomes? This chapter examines the notion of maps as “inscription devices” that turn land into a commodity that can be bought and sold by investors. It is based on the analysis of a land reform project in the Southern African country of Lesotho. In contrast to the prescriptive notion of maps as inscription devices I argue that cadastral maps are better understood as processual. Maps are only powerful in concert with contingent social forces in changing political and economic contexts. I use the example of cadastral mapping and land sales in a peri-urban village in Lesotho to make the case for a more dynamic notion of maps and mapping in understanding the work they do in making land investable.
Issue Date:2017-05-15
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Charles Fogelman
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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