Colonial Lives of Property

9780822371465: Paperback
Release Date: 25th May 2018

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 280

Series Global and Insurgent Legalities

Duke University Press Books

Colonial Lives of Property

Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership

Brenna Bhandar examines how the emergence of modern property law contributed to the formation of racial subjects in settler colonies, showing how the colonial appropriation of indigenous lands depends upon ideologies of European racial superiority as well as legal narratives that equated civilized life with English concepts of property.
Paperback / £21.99

In Colonial Lives of Property Brenna Bhandar examines how modern property law contributes to the formation of racial subjects in settler colonies and to the development of racial capitalism. Examining both historical cases and ongoing processes of settler colonialism in Canada, Australia, and Israel and Palestine, Bhandar shows how the colonial appropriation of indigenous lands depends upon ideologies of European racial superiority as well as upon legal narratives that equate civilized life with English concepts of property. In this way, property law legitimates and rationalizes settler colonial practices while it racializes those deemed unfit to own property. The solution to these enduring racial and economic inequities, Bhandar demonstrates, requires developing a new political imaginary of property in which freedom is connected to shared practices of use and community rather than individual possession.

Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: Property, Law, and Race in the Colony  1
1. Use  33
2. Propertied Abstractions  77
3. Improvement  115
4. Status  149
Conclusion: Life beyond the Boundary  181
Notes  201
Bibliography  239
Index  257

Brenna Bhandar is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and coeditor of Plastic Materialities, also published by Duke University Press.

"This powerful and profoundly political book explores ownership through the prism of the modern emergence of property law and contemporaneous conceptualizations of race. In colonial jurisdictions, property law—that 'terrible right'—legalized and continues to legitimate the expropriation of land and wealth, structuring a form of domination adequate to it. Two questions lie at the core of Brenna Bhandar's analysis: In light of the travels of property law between the metropole and the colonies, is it possible today to push back against it? So that, along with law, property too may be thrown into question?"

Antonio Negri

“Brenna Bhandar's enthralling book peels the veneer of property law from that which lies concealed beneath—the multiplicitous structures of dominance that define our contemporary settler-colonial world, all the way from Parramatta to Palestine. Here is a trenchant reassertion of the capacities of Marxist analysis to plumb dispossessions both historic and current, and to expose the entwined regimes of ownership and of racial hegemony that sustain them.”

Christopher Tomlins, author of
Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580–1865

“In this original study, Brenna Bhandar analyzes the constitutive role of colonialism in the development of modern property law and the modern legal subject. Bhandar's sophisticated comparative research on the political-economic imagination and legal infrastructure of settler colonialism is completely fascinating. And her stunning elaboration of what she names 'racial regimes of ownership' is utterly brilliant. A timely and essential book that will fundamentally change the way we think about race, property, and subjectivity.”

Avery F. Gordon, author of
The Hawthorn Archive: Letters from the Utopian Margins

"I am obsessed with the force and eloquence with which [Bhandar] analyzes the birth of private property and its ongoing devastating effects. This book is going to be precious to me and many other people, too."

Jordy Rosenberg
Shelf Awareness

"A multidisciplinary and highly original historical account of the legal and philosophical justifications for appropriation and private ownership in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries."

Liz Fekete
Race & Class