Property and Being under Colonial Conditions in Africa and Asia

May 13, 2022 at 8:00 am - May 14, 2022 at 5:00 pm EDT

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Property and Being under Colonial Conditions in Africa and Asia

May 13, 2022 at 8:00 am May 14, 2022 at 5:00 pm America/Michigan/Ann Arbor

Scholars have long proposed that property is as much about relationships between people as it is about the ownership of “things.” It is about both belonging, and belongings. Property offers a window onto contestations over power, social relations, resources, identity and political imagination. Histories of property in Asia and Africa, in particular, are intertwined with histories of colonial expansion, the emergence of new forms of state power, the creation of new categories/taxonomies of governance, the appropriation of indigenous lands, the reordering of social relations, and new or reworked imaginaries of property.

The purpose of this interdisciplinary conference, “Property and Being under Colonial Conditions in Asia and Africa,” is to explore how comparing intellectual, cultural, social, political-economic, and legal histories of property from African and Asian colonial contexts may help us rethink ideas about land, ownership, dispossession, rights, credit, subjectivities, and political imaginations. Participants will engage with the historically sedimented entanglements of colonial policy and indigenous practices, developmentalist desires, and cultural and climatic change. 

Conversations across these regions may thus enable new understandings of property histories. Relevant questions include: how did diverse colonial conditions across Africa and Asia produce distinct logics of property and ownership rooted in racial, ethnic, caste, and gendered ideologies? To what extent did vernacular ideas about property and ownership shape the trajectories of colonial/post-colonial state-making? Indigenous community-building and claim-making? How have liberal ideologies of property, ownership and personhood shaped histories of the emergence of racialized regimes in different colonial contexts? 

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