Intricate links: Displacement, ethno-political conflict, and claim-making to land in Burundi

Rosine Tchatchoua-Djomo*, Gemma van der Haar, Han van Dijk, Mathijs van Leeuwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper explores claim-making to land in Burundi, where civil war and multiple waves of displacement and return have resulted in complex disputes over land. Zooming in on two different regions, the paper shows that, as people articulate their claims and defend their interests in land disputes, they strategically draw on a diversity of arguments, related to legal categories, notions of belonging and citizenship, social categories derived from (land) policy, but also victimhood, security concerns, and political loyalty. Post-peace agreement land policies play an important role in this, as they instrumentalise war-based categories of identity and victimhood, privileging certain groups of displaced people for political purposes. As we show in two case studies, claim-making tactics follow shifting political discourses and policy changes, as people seek to secure the support of (powerful) allies. A perspective on processes of making claims to land allows us to explore the entanglements between multiple waves of displacement, policy implementation and the instrumentalisation of identities in conflict-affected settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-151
Early online date28 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Burundi
  • Claim-making
  • Displacement
  • Ethno-political conflict
  • Identity
  • Land disputes
  • Victimhood

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