BOONE, N.C.—Dr. Anatoli Ignatov, assistant professor in Appalachian State University’s Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development, received $35,217.50 in funding from the Fulbright Scholar Program for his second project, “Who Owns the Land? Power, Belonging, and the Remaking of History in Ghana.” While in Ghana, Ignatov’s host institutions include the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research at the University for Development Studies (UDS) and the Tamale and Millar Institute for Transdisciplinary and Development Studies, Bolgatanga.
This project examines the contemporary contestations over the ownership of land in Northern Ghana. Presently, land remains the main factor of production in Ghana and the vast majority — 68% — of land is used for agriculture (United States Agency for International Development, 2013). It is characterized by a plural legal system where customary and statutory systems overlap.
According to Kasim Kasanga and Nii Ahie Kotey (“Land Management in Ghana: Building on Tradition and Modernity,” 2001), 80 to 90 percent of all the land in Ghana is held under a multiplicity of customary claims.
In the north, land tenure interests are enshrined in contesting oral histories of founding ancestors’ compacts with the land. Ignatov views these contestations not merely as struggles over access to “resources,” but also as struggles over competing models of political authority and sustainability. By elucidating how people draw on, revise and add to these models, the project aims to contribute to broader policy and scholarly debates about land rights and governance in Africa.
The project clarifies both who holds allocative authority over land and the status of contested land previously acquired by the state. It illuminates the tensions between customary and formal land rights regimes and how these tensions shape and have been shaped by various donor interventions intended to promote development.
About the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University prepares students to thoughtfully analyze human development while focusing on the applied practice of pursuing transformative, community-driven development and social change. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree in sustainable development with concentrations in agroecology and sustainable agriculture; community, regional and global development; and environmental studies; as well as a Bachelor of Arts and minor in sustainable development.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.