There is wide engagement with large-scale land deals in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly from the perspectives of development and international political economy. Recently, scholars have increasingly pointed to a gendered lacuna in this literature. Engagement with gender tends to focus on potential differential impacts for men and women, and it also flags the need for more detailed empirical research of specific land deals. This paper draws from ethnographic data collected in Northern Sierra Leone to support the claim that the impacts of land deals are highly gendered, but it also argues that lineage in a land-owning family and patronage intersect with these gendered impacts. This data supports my claim that analysis of land deals should start from an understanding of the context-dependent, complex arrays of power and marginality. Such a starting point allows for a wider and ‘messier’ range of impacts and experiences to emerge.
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