Understanding Land Reform in Ghana: A Critical Postcolonial Institutional Approach

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Journal Article
Review of Radical Political Economics, 2016, 48 (4), pp. 661 - 680
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© 2015, © 2015 Union for Radical Political Economics. Land reform has become particularly prominent in development discourse in recent times. Advocates emphasize its importance for poverty reduction in underdeveloped economies. However, how reform comes about and evolves and what it is and does is situated, not universal, as neoclassical economists suggest. This paper sheds light on the meaning, evolution, and outcomes of land reform in Ghana. It draws on historical and contemporary socio-legal and political-economic sources of evidence, analyzed within a critical postcolonial institutional framework. It shows important features of continuity and change in both colonial and post-colonial land reform. While pre-colonial land tenure relations are misrepresented as entailing no market activities, the concerted effort to introduce “capitalist markets” into the land sector to produce “socially efficient outcomes” has led to contradictory results.
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