Generation Property: A Consideration of Customary Land Tenure in The Bahamas

Nicolette Bethel


Bahamian land ownership is linked closely with the idea of family. Many groups of kin lay claim to large estates throughout the Bahamian archipelago, and this property becomes a unifying emblem of the kin group as a whole.

Generation property unites groups of relatives not only by serving as a symbolic connection to the land but also by providing them with what is potentially a very real source of capital, profit, and power. As the same time, it serves as a flexible resource to be manipulated as necessary by individuals, each of whom may make multiple claims on different pieces of land. In this regard, generation property is similar to the Afro-Caribbean tradition of family land, but the Bahamas cannot be judged simply as a variant of the Caribbean model.

Family land is both scarce and a marker of ex-slave resistance and Afro-Caribbean solidarity. Bahamian generation property is not owned only by the descendants of the slaves, unlike Caribbean family land, and as such it is a symbolic resource for white and black Bahamians alike, and is also a potential provider of economic, social and political wealth.


Land tenure; Inheritance; Generation property

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Copyright (c) 2002 N. Bethel