Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Sociology; Sustainable Agriculture

First Advisor

Robert E. Mazur


Land deals can involve multiple and nested claims by communal groups, traditional authorities, households and individuals. Inclusive decision making regarding natural resource management and large scale land transactions can enhance positive community outcomes. Such decision making can also boost the sustainability of results. Our research focuses on village-level factors that influence negotiation processes and shape responses within and among communities.

Our study draws on group and individual interviews conducted in 2014 and 2015 with members of four rural communities in Cameroon. We examine the information and institutional capabilities that communities access to accept or reject land transactions and effectively negotiate terms. Bebbington’s pioneering work exploring the role of community capitals as assets—his ‘capitals and capabilities’ framework—informed our analysis. So, too, did Ribot and Peluso’s ‘theory of access’——their emphasis, that is, not merely on property ownership but on people’s ability to derive benefits from resources. We use Schwalbe et al.'s generic processes that create and reproduce gender inequality to examine the negotiation process and Cornwall’s categories of ‘participatory governance’ to understand how participation is defined within a smaller stakeholder group.

Our analysis indicates that land investors are complying with the procedures and guidelines specified in Cameroonian law for community consultation and negotiations. Nonetheless, we found serious obstacles to meaningful informed consent. Such obstacles included uncertainty regarding decision making authority over the transfer of land, low or non-existent community assets, and deficiencies in structural and relational mechanisms. We also found that current processes of transferring land-use rights are gendered and negatively affect women in particular and the communities to which they belong. We highlight negotiating opportunities for communities within an innovative policy space. And find that land transfer negotiation processes reflect differentials in power within these emerging spaces for decentralized governance. We argue that decision-making within this forum is geared towards legitimizing investor strategy with limited integration of community needs. Place-based variations are thus crucial in understanding negotiation processes over the transfer of land.


Copyright Owner

Juliana Maloa Nnoko-Mewanu



File Format


File Size

268 pages