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Mellon Forum // Against the Rule of Property: Violence, Land Reclamation, and Decolonization

Bikrum Singh Gill, Virginia Tech

Mon, 2/19 · 12:00 pm1:15 pm · Betts Auditorium and Zoom

This talk considers the significance of revolutionary land reform to the decolonization of world order. It does so by examining the implications of two distinct anti-colonial land reform trajectories: an armed peasant-led path (in China) and a “non-violent” bourgeois/landlord-led path (in India). Historically, the armed peasant-led revolutionary path advanced, insofar as it fundamentally overturned the colonial/imperial landed order, a more substantive decolonization than the “non-violent” path which functioned to protect the landed order instituted by the colonial state. Nevertheless, as post-apartheid South Africa and the Oslo Peace Process in Palestine illustrate, the armed peasant-led trajectory would come to be largely abandoned in the post-Cold War and neoliberal context. It is within such a context, I argue, that the return of anti-colonial land reclamation in Zimbabwe and Palestine in the early twenty-first century assumes world-historical significance, interrupting the liberal “end of history” thesis of the “rule of property” with the ontological re-emergence of those dispossessed by colonial property regimes.

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