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Keywords:

  • Land titling;
  • Informal settlements;
  • State-society relations;
  • Maputo;
  • Mozambique

Abstract

This article engages with the discussions on the benefits and drawbacks of land titling programmes that seek to regularize informal urban settlements in developing countries. It is based on fieldwork in two neighbourhoods of Maputo, Mozambique, that are currently part of a municipal government regularization programme supported by the World Bank. The fieldwork explored an informal titling system administrated by the neighbourhood authorities upon which local residents rely to prevent land conflicts and to provide proof of residence. The findings add to the literature that demonstrates growing unease with a strictly dyadic formal/informal analysis of land occupation, and further queries the assumption that the state and the informal settler are diametrically opposed, with the former granting formal rights to the latter. In the process of these discussions, the article highlights the limited scholarly attention that has been granted to the governance implications of land titling programmes.