IV. Researching Customary Practices

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This page will highlight a few areas for analysis.

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Researching customary practices can be a challenge, especially from the comfort of your office. It is nearly impossible to locate any single document or resource that will highlight the different customary practices relevant to women’s land rights in a particular jurisdiction. It is important to remember that the main goal for this research is to gain a basic idea of some customary practices and identify different sources and institutions that you can go to for more information. Most of the information about customary practices is in the form of books, articles, studies, and research papers. For information about customary practices you will likely need to conduct research across a number of different disciplines: anthropology, geography, sociology, economics, international development, public policy, etc.

Research Roadmap

1) Conduct some basic background research on the jurisdiction that you are interested in.

Locating basic demographic information will be helpful for generating search terms and identifying the basic social composition of a country. For example, you would like to know if there are different tribes in a country and, if so, which are the main tribes and in what parts of the country do they live. Click here for resources for locating basic background information.  A good starting point is the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database, which contains background information about most countries and references to some customary practices and customary institutions.

2) Generate search terms and search strings to locate more specific articles and materials, and search for materials online and in print.

  • Click here for some general research tips.
  • Click here for suggestions for locating secondary sources.
  • Click here for a list of some common search terms related to women's land rights issues.

3) Review the materials you find and piece together a general idea about customary practices.

Often, articles will address one or more customary practices, and you will need to piece together information from a variety of sources to get a broader picture of customary practices. Don’t forget to review our Women's Land Tenure Frameworks for Analysis for specific questions and issues to consider when evaluating customary practices.

4) Ultimately, to get a full picture of customary practice, field work is usually necessary.

Conducting comprehensive field work requires significant time and monetary resources. The fieldwork process is beyond the scope of this guide.