Abstract

Field research conducted May-July 1988 is used to explore the functions & origins of property in Papua New Guinea, one of the few areas where markets in land have not arisen but is rather under "customary ownership." Focus is on three alternative ways to create the legal powers necessary for the emergence of a market in land, including: allocating customary land to individuals in freehold, thereby converting the legal regime from customary law to Australian common law; reconstituting kin groups as collective enterprises & vesting ownership of land in them; & inventing novel forms of market property, often outside the framework of formal law, that are more congenial to tradition. It is concluded that conversion to freehold is sound only within the narrow compass of emerging towns & cities, & reconstituting kin groups as cooperatives could only succeed by local initiative in a limited number of regions. Reform of land law by the common law process appears more promising than transforming it by legislative fiat along capitalist or socialist lines. 96 References. Adapted from the source document.

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