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Land tenure

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Chapter Summary

The colonial state made a binding distinction between Indigenous and European land tenure systems and, even though this distinction could be overlaid by finer categorizations, every plot of urban land inescapably belonged to either the Indigenous or the European category. Kampong land was as a rule held by an Indigenous title, while ownership of plots along the main roads and in newly developed suburbs was regulated by a European title. Urban plots with an Indigenous title to ownership differed from European plots in the tax levied and the procedure of registration, but not in substance. These Indigenous plots, which formally had a right of usufruct, were often erroneously though tellingly referred to as having 'hereditary individual property right'. The juridical distinction between a European and an Indigenous title was absolute, but the distinction in security, with the concomitant different social uses, was gradual.

Keywords: 'hereditary individual property right'; European title; Indigenous title; juridical distinction; land tenure



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