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Title:Land and social stratification in Dar Fur, 1785-1875: the hakura system
Author:La Rue, G. MichaelISNI
Series:Working papers
City of publisher:Boston, MA
Publisher:African Studies Center, Boston University
Geographic term:Sudan
Subjects:social structure
Darfur polity
customary law
land law
Abstract:This paper deals with the changes in control over land in Dar Fur, Sudan, and its effects on patterns of social stratification in the period 1785-1875. In the historiography of precolonial Africa, land is generally assumed to have been abundant, and therefore not an economic constraint. But control over land was widely used within Africa to obtain part of free cultivators' agricultural production. In 19th-century Dar Fur, control over land was certainly not the sole basis of social stratification. Yet the 'hakura' system of land tenure provides a useful key to understanding how the introduction of new principles for the allocation of land and labour transformed the economy and society in Dar Fur. The 'hakura' system was both a scale on which status could be measured, and a tool through which it could be acknowledged, conferred, or enhanced. The first section of the paper examines the way in which the control of land has been treated in recent writings on precolonial African economies. The second section discusses the 'hakura' system and social stratification in Dar Fur.