A1 Journal article (refereed)
Unravelling Church Land : Transformations in the Relations between Church, State and Community in Uganda (2019)

Alava, H., & Shroff, C. (2019). Unravelling Church Land : Transformations in the Relations between Church, State and Community in Uganda. Development and Change, 50 (5), 1288-1309. doi:10.1111/dech.12503

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Alava, Henni; Shroff, Catrine

Journal or series: Development and Change

ISSN: 0012-155X

eISSN: 1467-7660

Publication year: 2019

Volume: 50

Issue number: 5

Pages range: 1288-1309

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12503

Open Access: Publication channel is not openly available

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/65452


Christian churches control substantial areas of land in Africa. While intensifying struggles over their holdings are partly due to the increased pressure on land in general, they also reflect transformations in the relations through which churches’ claims to land are legitimized, the increased association of churches with business, and churches’ unique positioning as both institutions and communities. This article presents the trajectory of relations between church, state and community in Uganda from the missionary acquisition of land in the colonial era to the unravelling of church landholding under Museveni. Drawing on long‐term ethnographic fieldwork, the authors argue that claims to church land in contemporary Uganda draw on: 1) notions of belonging to the land; 2) views about the nature of churches as communities; 3) discontent regarding whether customary land owners gave churches user rights or ownership; and 4) assessment of the churches’ success in ensuring that the land works for the common good. The article develops a novel approach to analysing the changing meaning of the landholdings of religious institutions, thus extending ongoing discussions about land, politics, development and religion in Africa.

Keywords: local communities; justification; legitimacy; land ownership; church (institution); state (public sector entities)

Free keywords: church; state; community; land; belonging; Uganda; Africa

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Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2020-18-10 at 21:26