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Land and private property: 21st century onto-material remnants

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Organizer: pedro gabriel soares daher

Co-Organizer: Ashwin Bajaj

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Fredric Jameson has affirmed that “postmodern politics is essentially a matter of land-grabs, on a local as well as global scale”, and thus the capitalist mode of production which begins with various forms of “dispossession” has returned in one sense to its originary modes of accumulation. While there is a myriad of ways to enter the discussion surrounding private property and land, this panel will be more concerned with its ontoepistemological and material matters as the two guiding tenets that keep sustaining the construction of the world through the colonial-racial-capital project having violence as its primary tool. Engaging with private property in its more abstract conceptions through the philosophical, juridical, economic, political, and social to understand how an entire mode of being was created from it is also a fundamental question that this panel aims to think through.


‘Private property’ as an overarching problematic of the contemporary world recognises its founding link with that global processes of colonial capitalism and the movements of decolonisation and its aftermath have enfolded the globe within a singular history of capitalism. This singular but differentiated problematic is mirrored in various strands of critical theory which alert us to the risks of homogenization. One contends that the discourse of ‘private property’ has resulted over the long-durée of capitalism (15th-21st centuries and all its specificities, continuities and discontinuities) in a mingling and co-evolution of the utmost modern invention, that of the universal-particular distinction, throughout the globe. This panel, therefore, attempts an investigation and discussion into that distinction having private property as the hyphen, the nexus itself, that continuously establishes and re-establishes the world.


A few guiding questions: How did private property become the sole possible horizon for organized existence? How did its reign of terror develop within and outside Europe from the 15th century onwards? How does it keep guiding the world and all its relations today? What can literature offer towards illuminating the centrality of private property for our current ontological-material relations? As it traverses a combined and uneven world-system, how does literature (specially but not limited to historical novels, autobiographies, historical fiction) elucidate questions and possibilities regarding intra- and extra-human violence? Above all, how to overcome the dominion of private property over life for a future which isn't centered on violence and accumulation?

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