2016: Who owns the world? Landscapes of Sovereignty, Property, Dispossession

Professor Eve Darian-Smith of the University of California, Santa Barbara presented the 2016 Annual Socio-Legal Lecture

This talk engages with the question of global property possession in the early decades of the 21st century. Against a backdrop of decreasing natural resources, growing food insecurity, and mass movements of people fleeing conflict and persecution, how are we to understand the mass buying up of land by a global elite around the world. In what ways is concentration of land possession into the hands of a few shifting debates about national sovereignty, individual rights to property, and the global commons? How can the concentration of land possession be reconciled with concurrent dispossession of millions of people from their homelands? More specifically, in what ways does land grabbing relate to the current expulsion of humanity from legal access and legal protections? Reflecting on the politics of resistance to the Keystone XL Pipeline, this talk picks up a perennial question in socio-legal scholarship that has ever increasing urgency in our contemporary era – who owns the world, and relatedly who has the capacity and authority to determine, protect, resist or modify the dominant legal concepts of “property” and “ownership”?