Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2022
Chapter 2 focuses on the fixing and transformation of property rights during the nineteenth century. Possession claims and inheritance practices change over time, and in many ways the available historical evidence hid these changes, reprojecting a nineteenth-century understanding of land regimes. The imposition of land titles and land charts crystallized processes that were fluid until then. Yet the long list of vassalage treaties, inventories, and disputes between African rulers, their neighbors, and the Portuguese analyzed in the chapter provides a clear example of how all actors engaged in a continued negotiation over possession, jurisdiction, rights, and claims. The Portuguese misunderstandings about land use and rights are examined in detail, exploring the consequences for African historiography.