Lawyers in Neoliberalism. Authority’s Professional Supplicants or Society’s Amateurish Conscience?

July 2006
Issa G. Shivji (Professor of Law, University of Dar es Salaam)

A wide-ranging valedictory lecture by the veteran radical land guru. Offers glimpses of the role of law in Tanzania’s jump from the frying pan of state nationalism into the fire of corporate neoliberalism. Argues that the creation of ‘free’ labour and of land as capital were central to the colonial project. Examines the changing status of customary titles and the series of Land Acts from 1999. Argues that De Soto’s current Mkurabita project will in effect mean registering large chunks of village land in preparation for their alienation through force, fraud, and corruption. Concludes by arguing that the legal elite is involved in facilitating the commodification of land, water, energy, and traditional medicinal plants, and in drafting intellectual property laws to protect modified seeds and medicines looted from peasants and pastoralists.

Valedictory lecture on Issa G. Shivji’s formal retirement.