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States and Power in AfricaComparative Lessons in Authority and Control$
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Jeffrey Herbst

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164137

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164137.001.0001

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Chiefs, States, and the Land

Chiefs, States, and the Land

(p.173) Six Chiefs, States, and the Land
States and Power in Africa

Jeffrey Herbst

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the extent to which Africa’s centralized states have been able to broadcast power into rural areas by focusing on ongoing disputes over land tenure. The role of local elites in the distribution of land is critical to their autonomy from the state. As a result, states have continually sought to alter property rights in order to disempower local elites. However, given the uneven ability of African states to implement controversial policies in the hinterlands, national authorities have had varying success in their efforts to supplant chiefs in controlling the process of allocation of land. The chapter analyzes the reasons why some states are more successful than others in implementing changes in property rights that supplant chiefs and, by extension, are better able to broadcast power over distance.

Keywords:   states, Africa, power, rural areas, land tenure, elites, land allocation, autonomy, property rights, chiefs

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