The aim of the present work is to advance a theoretical framework for the comparative study of dispossession by explaining how the political economy of land dispossession has transformed from state-led developmentalism to neoliberalism in India. The dissertation compares the archetypical forms of dispossession in each period and argues that they constitute different regimes of dispossession. A regime of dispossession is an institutionalized way of expropriating landed assets from their current owners or users. Each regime of dispossession is distinguished by: 1) a set of purposes for which a state is willing to dispossess land and 2) a way of producing compliance to that dispossession. Under different regimes, dispossession facilitates different kinds of accumulation with variable developmental consequences. These consequences crucially effect the long-term political stability of a regime of dispossession. Between independence in 1947 and economic liberalization in the early 1990s, India operated under a developmentalist regime of dispossession. Under this regime, the Indian state dispossessed land for state-led industrial and infrastructural projects, ensuring compliance through coercion and powerful ideological appeals to national development. This dispossession facilitated productive agrarian and industrial accumulation that disproportionately benefited the industrial bourgeoisie, big farmers, and the public sector elite, but also delivered some benefits to other classes. This development was, however, based on the impoverishment of tens of millions of people that it dispossessed. For many decades, this regime was able to convince a wide public that such dispossession constituted a necessary sacrifice for "the nation." Social movements in the 1970s and 1980s challenged this view, but they could not substantially impede dispossession before the developmentalist regime gave way to economic liberalization. Economic liberalization in the early 1990s generated a transition to a new neoliberal regime of dispossession in which state governments restructured themselves as land brokers for private capital. No longer just dispossessing land for state-led industrial and infrastructural projects, states turned to dispossessing peasants for private real estate. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are the archetype of this regime. Based on 19 months of ethnographic research on one of the first large SEZs in North India, this dissertation illustrates the character and consequences of this neoliberal regime of dispossession. First, it argues that dispossessing land for SEZs lacks legitimacy, fuelling "land wars"; however, states may be able to generate material compliance among some farmers by absorbing them into real estate markets. Second, it argues that dispossessing land for SEZs facilitates real estate and knowledge-intensive accumulation that benefits a narrow set of class interests, while disaccumulating agrarian assets and marginalizing rural labor. Third, it argues that the major economic effect of this accumulation is real estate speculation, which generates unequal and involutionary agrarian change that leaves the majority of the dispossessed impoverished. The result is "dispossession without development." The dissertation concludes that India's neoliberal regime of dispossession will remain politically tenuous. It ends by outlining a comparative research program on the sociology of dispossession. By integrating land dispossession into theories of capitalist development, the theory of regimes of dispossession fills an absence in development sociology and reconstructs Marxist theories of "primitive accumulation," enhancing our understanding of states, economic development, agrarian change, and rural politics.
In Dispossession without Development, Michael Levien seeks to uncover the structural underpinnings of India's so-called "land wars." He examines how land dispossession changed with India's shift from state-led development to neoliberalism and the consequences of these changes for dispossessed farmers in contemporary India.
This volume takes a fresh look at the land question in India. Instead of re-engaging in the rich transition debate in which the transformation of agriculture is seen as a necessary historical step to usher in dynamic capitalist (or socialist) development, this collection critically examines the centrality of land in contemporary development discourse in India. Consequently, the focus is on the role of the state in pushing a process of dispossession of peasants through direct expropriation for developmental purposes such as acquisition of land by (local) states for infrastructure development and to support accumulation strategies of private business through industrialization. Land in India is sought for non-agricultural purposes such as purchasing land to reduce risk and real estate development. Land is also central to tribal communities (adivasis), whose livelihoods depend on it and on a moral economy that is independent of any price-driven markets. Adivasis tend to hold on to such property, not as individual owners for profit, but for collective security and to protect a way of life. Thus land, notwithstanding its role in the accumulation process, has been, and continues to be, a turbulent arena in which classes, castes, and communities are in conflict with each other, with the state, and with capital, jockeying to determine the terms and conditions of land transactions or their prevention, through both market and non-market mechanisms. The volume goes beyond the traditional political economy of the agrarian transition question, and deals with, inter alia, distributional conflicts arising from acquisition of land by the state for capital accumulation on the one hand and its commodification on the other. It provides new analytical insights into the land acquisition processes, their legal-institutional and ethical implications, and the multifaceted regional diversity of acquisition experiences in India.
Since the mid-2000s, India has been beset by widespread farmer protests against land dispossession. Dispossession Without Development demonstrates that beneath these conflicts lay a profound shift in regimes of dispossession. While the postcolonial Indian state dispossessed land mostly for public-sector industry and infrastructure, since the 1990s state governments have become land brokers for private real estate capital. Using the case of a village in Rajasthan that was dispossessed for a private Special Economic Zone, the book ethnographically illustrates the exclusionary trajectory of capitalism driving dispossession in contemporary India. Taking us into the lives of diverse villagers in "Rajpura," the book meticulously documents the destruction of agricultural livelihoods, the marginalization of rural labor, the spatial uneveness of infrastructure provision, and the dramatic consequences of real estate speculation for social inequality and village politics. Illuminating the structural underpinnings of land struggles in contemporary India, this book will resonate in any place where "land grabs" have fueled conflict in recent years.
This collection of essays in Governing Global Land Deals provides new empirical and theoretical analyses of the relationships between global land grabs and processes of government and governance. Reframes debates on global land grabs by focusing on the relationship between large-scale land deals and processes of governance Offers new theoretical insights into the different forms and effects of global land acquisitions Illuminates both the micro-processes of transaction and expropriation, as well as the broader structural forces at play in global land deals Provides new empirical data on the different actors involved in contemporary land deals occurring across the globe and focuses on the specific institutional, political, and economic contexts in which they are acting
Dispossession describes the condition of those who have lost land, citizenship, property, and a broader belonging to the world. This thought-provoking book seeks to elaborate our understanding of dispossession outside of the conventional logic of possession, a hallmark of capitalism, liberalism, and humanism. Can dispossession simultaneously characterize political responses and opposition to the disenfranchisement associated with unjust dispossession of land, economic and political power, and basic conditions for living? In the context of neoliberal expropriation of labor and livelihood, dispossession opens up a performative condition of being both affected by injustice and prompted to act. From the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa to the anti-neoliberal gatherings at Puerta del Sol, Syntagma and Zucchotti Park, an alternative political and affective economy of bodies in public is being formed. Bodies on the street are precarious - exposed to police force, they are also standing for, and opposing, their dispossession. These bodies insist upon their collective standing, organize themselves without and against hierarchy, and refuse to become disposable: they demand regard. This book interrogates the agonistic and open-ended corporeality and conviviality of the crowd as it assembles in cities to protest political and economic dispossession through a performative dispossession of the sovereign subject and its propriety.
Exploring the emerging and vibrant field of critical agrarian studies, this comprehensive Handbook offers interdisciplinary insights from both leading scholars and activists to understand agrarian life, livelihoods, formations and processes of change. It highlights the development of the field, which is characterized by theoretical and methodological pluralism and innovation.
This volume reconsiders India's 20th century though a specific focus on the concepts, conjunctures and currency of its distinct political imaginaries. Spanning the divide between independence and partition, it highlights recent historical debates that have sought to move away from a nation-centred mode of political history to a broader history of politics that considers the complex contexts within which different political imaginaries emerged in 20th century India. Representing the first attempt to grasp the shifting modes and meanings of the 'political' in India, this book explores forms of mass protest, radical women's politics, civil rights, democracy, national wealth and mobilization against the indentured-labor system, amongst other themes. In linking 'the political' to shifts in historical temporality, Political Imaginaries in 20th century India extends beyond the interdisciplinary arena of South Asian studies to cognate late colonial and post-colonial formations in the twentieth century and contribute to the 'political turn' in scholarship.
"This book argues that the mass party emerged as the product of two distinct but related 'primitive accumulations' - the dismantling of communal land tenure and the corresponding dispossession of means of local administration. It illustrates this argument by studying the party central to one of the longest regimes of the 20th century - the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in Mexico, which emerged as a mass party during the 1930s and 1940s. I place the PRI in comparative perspective, studying the failed emergence of Bolivsia's Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) (1952-1964), attempted under similar conditions as the Mexican case. Why was party emergence successful in one case but not the other? As the book shows, the PRI emerged as a mass party in areas in Mexico where land privatization was more intensive and communal village government was weakened, enabling the party's construction and subsequent absorption of peasant unions and organizations. To the extent that the MNR's saw organizational successes, these were limited precisely to areas in Bolivia with similar agrarian structures as those where the PRI succeeded in Mexico. Ultimately, the overall strength of communal property holding and concomitant traditional political authority structures blocked the emergence of the MNR as a mass party. In the parts of Mexico and Bolivia where economic and political expropriation was more pronounced, there was a critical mass of individuals available for political organization, with articulatable interests, and a burgeoning cast of professional politicians, that facilitated connections between the party and the peasantry. The opposite occurred in the areas of the countries were communal property and governmental forms were stronger"--
India has been catapulted to the centre of world attention. Its rapidly growing economy, new geo-political confidence, and global cultural influence have ensured that people across the world recognise India as one of the main sites of social dynamism in the early twenty-first century. In this book, research leaders John Harriss, Craig Jeffrey and Trent Brown explore in depth the economic, social, and political changes occurring in India today, and their implications for the people of India and the world. Each of the book’s fourteen chapters seeks to answer a key question: Is India’s democracy under threat? Can India’s Growth be sustained? How are youth changing India? Drawing on a wealth of scholarly and popular material as well as their own experience researching the country during this period of major transformation, the authors draw the reader into key debates about economic growth, poverty, environmental justice, the character of Indian democracy, rights and social movements, gender, caste, education, and foreign policy. India, they conclude, has undergone some extraordinary and positive changes since the early 1990s but deeply worrying threats remain: increasing authoritarianism, growing inequality, entrenched poverty, and environmental vulnerability. How India responds to these crucial challenges will shape the world’s largest democracy for years to come.