Land rights in Africa are rooted in a range of social, political and economic relationships and units spanning households and kinship networks often overlapping and layered in character. The contemporaneous existence of parallel but separate legal systems, usually customary and statutory, or legal pluralism, that apply different paradigms to decide land matters often lead to inequality and injustice in how individuals or groups can access land. Of particular significance are the alternative avenues provided by the rapid collapse of communal tenure systems through increased commodification and subsequent privatization of land. In this situation, legal pluralism has the contradictory effect of opening up opportunities to negotiate land rights and resist the appropriation of land by the state, capitalist enterprise and other agents, while eroding traditional avenues for marginalized groups like women and migrants to access land. Understanding the current trends in land tenure and land rights commodification and appropriation by powerful mediators are crucial for engaging relevant processes of social and political change within African societies. Research approaches are important for the realisation of this insight.

The recent shift away from a gendered focus in land research conflicts with the increasing openness among especially young African academics to include a gender-sensitive lens within their research. This is not to speculate that there is a complete lack of gender sensitivity among young researchers carrying out studies on tenure reforms and land use in Africa. However, the dearth of epistemological underpinnings and their related methodological applications to highlight gender dynamics within interdisciplinary researchers seem to cripple many young researchers on land rights in Africa. A related challenge is the grasp of appropriate methodological tools to rigorously interrogate the intersection of gender and other forms of social relations that serve to further disadvantage marginalized groups. For instance, World Bank induced land reforms that are engaging several African countries have been noted for the 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. Thus the lack of know-how on feminist methodology and theory often leads to a continuation of gender-blind research applications.

It is within this context that the University of Cape Coast Summer School is being conceptualized in collaboration with the Theologische Hochschule Friedensau (Friedensau Adventist University), and the Freie Univesität, Berlin, Germany.


The University of Cape Coast Summer School serves as an exploratory platform. Its main objectives are to:

  • Enhance the ability of young academics to include gender-sensitive approaches and feminist analytical tools in their research endeavour.
  • Provide young academics with relevant theoretical knowledge on the gender inter-relations of macro and micro-level land policies and local livelihoods, as well as legal pluralism and migration.
  • Encourage young academics especially on the pan-African level to create networks for further cooperation on studies around gender and land tenure reforms.

Workshop Content

A. Framing the analytical contexts:

  1. Social gender relations and Intersectionality
  1. Feminists epistemology and the foundations of gender sensitive
  1. Gender-sensitive research methodologies

B. Gender and land rights Africa

  1. Global (gendered) trends in land acquisition policy
  1. Large-scale land acquisition and Land Grabs in Africa
  1. Gender and the macro economy of Land politics

Target Participants

  • Ph.D. students from African countries, Germany and Ireland working on issues related to the summer school
  • Early career African Scholars and researchers within social sciences (Political Science, Anthropology, Migration Studies, Gender Studies) with little experience on gender-sensitive applied empirical research

Partner Universities & Sponsor