Early-stage researcher (ESR 10)
Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology
University of Cologne
I am Marie Ladekjær Gravesen, the ESR 10 of the REAL project. I am affiliated to the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology at University of Cologne. I have a background in English and Anthropology from University of Aarhus and African Studies from University of Copenhagen. Besides that I have working experience from different consultancy and development agencies.
My studies have focused on (post)colonial power relation, decentralisation, relations between different knowledge systems and climate change adaptation in Northern Ghana.
Negotiating Access to Land in a Contested Environment: Actors, Policies, Visions and the Fragmentation of Land-Use in Western Laikipia
This project focuses on past and present negotiations of land access in the former White Highlands of Western Laikipia, where a wide variety of different ethnic groups employ different livelihood strategies, from small-scale subsistence farming and pastoral livestock keeping, to large-scale commercial farming and ranching. The area is privately owned with plot sizes between 5 and 100 acres, but a variety of uncertainties has produced a situation with absentee landlords and supposedly vacant land that has come to be settled by different pastoral and semi-pastoral groups now employing different strategies to claim their right to access. Hence, it is an area prone to conflict of different sorts, whether political conflict around election times, land conflicts between pastoral groups or through court cases between landowners and pastoral squatters.
The project zooms in on a smaller spatial unit of analysis around Rumuruti town and explores how the different actors relate to each other internally within groups and land plots, but also to the landscape and to other present/past actors in the landscape. By combining oral histories with archival data on relations during the colonial era and the transition period around Independence, the study explores what happens when different narratives and understandings of land rights meet and what the strategies are to acquire, maintain and negotiate access.
The study will combine anthropological methods and network analyses with analysis of historical data when contextualizing the changes in the area between the colonial times of relative homogeneity and control by the few, over the transition period with resettlement schemes and politicisation of land in the 1960s, to the social fragmentation and heterogeneity in aspects of land management, ownership and legal support seen there today.