Abstract in English


When the Far East wasn't the Far West. The dynamics of land appropriation in a one-time 'no man's land' in lower Ivory Coast

Jean-Philippe Colin

Directeur de recherche à l'IRD, UR "Régulations foncières, politiques publiques et logiques d'acteurs", associé à l'UMR MOÎSA, Montpellier

avec la contribution de Georges Kouamé et Débégnoun Soro

Etudiants de l'Institut d'Ethno-sociologie (Abidjan), membres du Laboratoire d'Études Foncières de Côte d'Ivoire.

This paper deals withe the way in which land rights and their transfer emerged in a context of interstitial microfrontier, whose colonisation process fell outside the autochtonous people/migrants relationship system which tends to govern land rights in Ivory Coast. Historical analysis of how agricultural colonisation took place shows that this context is not, however, linked to any real institutional vaccum, in that principles shared by the pioneers of different origins exert a regulatory effect on initial access to land. The frontier character has consequentlly facilitated land transactions, in that the pioneer's rights over land did not stem from any customary inheritance. It therefore enabled him to transfer land as his own property. Such land transactions can, in contrast to what is often observed in the forest zones of Ivory Coast, be considered as 'full' sales. The initial conditions governing access to land (absence of customary holders of land rights, no trusteeships, rights founded on the fact of land clearance), the absence of any local land ownership issues and the nature of land transactions as outright sales are all factors that explain why these land rights are not called into question, even in the current socio-political situation.

Key-words : Ivory Coast - Sanwi - autochthonous people - migrants - pioneer front - access to land - land rights - customary rights - land marker - land disputes.