Summer School 2018

University of Cape Coast, Ghana

16th - 27th July 2018


Rights to land are closely linked to the membership and identification in a specific group. This may be the family, the clan, ethnic group or nation-state. Discourses on land and land legislations are therefore connected to politics of identity and belonging. Recent debates on belonging as well as national and ethnic identity stress the rights of the indigenous over newcomers, the rights of citizens over refugees and the rights of farmers over pastoralists. This leads to innumerable conflicts, including civil wars, over land, eviction and displacement. Thus, land ownership and land rights play a pivotal role in the processes of peacebuilding, repatriation and reintegration of refugees and displaced people. These processes are also crystallized in very gender-specific patterns which are often neglected in researches addressing politics of belonging and place and the way land rights are distributed along the membership to specific groups. For instance, in the context of border crossing and reintegration of both voluntary and involuntary return migrants, the role of gender is visibly displayed in access to land. The recent shift away from a gendered focus in land research is conflicting with the increasing openness, particularly among young African academics, to include a gender-sensitive lens within their research. This is not saying that there is a complete lack of gender sensitivity among young researchers carrying out studies on land tenure reforms and land use in Africa. However, the dearth of epistemological underpinnings and their related methodological applications in highlighting gender dynamics within interdisciplinary researches seem to constrain many young researchers working on the African context to be open to gender sensitivity in their research. Thus the lack of knowledge about feminist methodology and theory tends to lead to a continuation of gender-blind research. A related challenge is the insufficient grasp of appropriate methodological tools to rigorously interrogate the intersection of gender and other forms of social relations that serve to further disadvantage marginalised groups. For instance, the World Bank induced land reforms that currently engage several African countries have been noted for their inability to incorporate the appropriate gendered dimensions usually blamed on the stress of economic efficiency to the detriment of social gender relations that underscore land relations in Africa. It is within this context that the University of Cape Coast Summer School is being conceptualized. This Summer School, the third in the series, aims to look at the connection between land policies and politics of belonging and how these shape gender relations and influence women’s access to land. It will also focus on the intersections of the different forms of belonging and how this is displayed in struggles over land. The 2018 Cape Coast Summer School, like the earlier two, is a partnership cooperation between the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and Friedensau Adventist University, Germany, and sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation, Germany.