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”?

Eve Darian-Smith is Professor and Chair in Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an Adjunct Professor at RegNet, Australian National University. Trained as a lawyer, historian and anthropologist, she is interested in issues of postcolonialism, legal pluralism, and socio-legal theory. She has published widely including ten books and edited volumes. Her first book Bridging Divides: The Channel Tunnel and English Legal Identity in the New Europe (2009) won the Law & Society Association Herbert Jacob Book Prize. Her most recent book Laws and Societies in Global Contexts (2013) won the International Book Award in law. She is currently working on two manuscripts: New Indian Wars: Indigenous Sovereignty in Global Perspective (UCP) and Writing Global Research (California). She is on various editorial boards including the Canadian Journal of Law and Society and Social & Legal Studies, and is a former Associate Editor of American Ethnologist and Law & Society Review. She has recently been elected for the third time to the Law & Society Association Board of Trustees and is a member of its executive committee.