Property Rights and Society Discussion Group


The Property Rights and Society Discussion Group comprises a group of interdisciplinary scholars with a mutual interest in the study of property in its many forms and the ways it impacts on and is expressed through society across cultures and jurisdictions at the global level. The group runs a series of work-in-progress papers involving scholars from UVic and beyond.

Martin Bunton
Program Committee Chair, Centre for Global Studies,
Professor, Department of History

Andrew Buck,
Associate Fellow, Centre for Global Studies,
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law and Department of History

“I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land” with Dr. Alaina Roberts

WHEN: September 24, 2021 
12:00pm - 1:30pm (Pacific Time)

Details to follow

"Enclosure, Dispossession, and the Nineteenth-Century British Novel", with Dr. Carolyn Lesjak

In this talk, Dr. Lesjak presented an overview of her new book, The Afterlife of Enclosure: British Realism, Character, and the Commons, with a particular focus on the ways in which nineteenth-century British writers grappled with the profound transformations wrought by enclosure and the forms of dispossession it entailed. The presentation focused on the ties between enclosure and private property, fears of overpopulation, and the management of the poor and the persistence of the commons in the face of these assaults against it, both historically and in British realist novels of the nineteenth century. It highlighted both the longue durée of resistance to enclosure and the processes of “accumulation by dispossession” that link the old enclosures and the new enclosures today.

Dr. Carolyn Lesjak is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English, Simon Fraser University. She specializes in nineteenth-century British literature and culture, Marxist and feminist theory, and theories of the novel. She is the author of Working Fictions: A Genealogy of the Victorian Novel (Duke UP) and, most recently, The Afterlife of Enclosure: British Realism, Character, and the Commons (Stanford UP, 2021).

"The Unjust & Uncertain Tenure of Property in Persons: Slavery and Dispossession”, with Dr. Laura Brace

In this talk, Dr. Brace focused on the pamphlets of the antislavery debates in the 1790s. Antislavery writers argued that the West India planters were receivers of stolen goods, persevering in what they knew to be wrong, and dispossessing the enslaved of their fundamental property in their persons. The planters emerge as abettors and accomplices in iniquity and oppression. This presentation focused on their response, the arguments of the planters and their allies in defence of their property. What were they trying to hold on to in the face of these abolitionist arguments? The presentation explored some of the layers of dispossession at the heart of slavery as a ‘species of property’ that was regarded as valuable but precarious. What did it mean to own a property in other people, and what did the riskiness and uncertainty of that ownership mean for the property rights of the planters? As their right to property in their slaves came under attack from antislavery writers and campaigners, how did they try to shore up their ownership and mount a defence against their own dispossession?

Dr. Laura Brace is Associate Professor, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester, UK. Her research agenda focuses on the politics of property, and in particular the connections between self-ownership, gender, race and empire. She is the author of The Politics of Slavery (Edinburgh UP, 2018), The Politics of Property (Edinburgh UP, 2004) and The Idea of Property in seventeenth-century England (Manchester UP, 1998).

"Lineages of Dispossession:  Palestinian Land Loss across Time and Geography”, with Dr. Gary Fields

This talk situated the modern-day dispossession of Palestinians within a longer historical time frame and across a broader geographical reach of land seizure initiated by actor groups with territorial ambitions.  Using case study material from the English Enclosures, the Anglo-American colonial frontier, and modern Palestine, the talk proposed – tentatively – a model for deployment in the study of other cases of land seizure and dispossession.

Dr. Gary Fields is a Professor in the Department of Communication and an affiliate of the Department of History at the University of California, San Diego and is the author of ‘Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror’ (University of California Press, 2017).