Mellon Forum // Against the Rule of Property: Violence, Land Reclamation, and Decolonization

Feb 19, 2024, 12:00 pm1:30 pm
Betts and Zoom


Event Description

Mellon Forum on the Urban Environment: Transforming Land / Making Property

Against the Rule of Property: Violence, Land Reclamation, and Decolonization

Bikrum Singh Gill, Virginia Tech


Jacob S. T. Dlamini, Princeton Associate Professor of History

This is a hybrid event. Attend in person at the School of Architecture, or register for the zoom webinar using the below link:


A view-only livestream is available on Media Central Channel 7:



This talk considers the significance of revolutionary land reform to the decolonization of world order.  It does so by examining the implications of two distinct anti-colonial land reform trajectories: an armed peasant-led path (in China) and a “non-violent” bourgeois/landlord-led path (in India). Historically, the armed peasant-led revolutionary path advanced, insofar as it fundamentally overturned the colonial/imperial landed order, a more substantive decolonization than the “non-violent” path which functioned to protect the landed order instituted by the colonial state.  Nevertheless, as post-apartheid South Africa and the Oslo Peace Process in Palestine illustrate, the armed peasant-led trajectory would come to be largely abandoned in the post-Cold War and neoliberal context. It is within such a context, I argue, that the return of anti-colonial land reclamation in Zimbabwe and Palestine in the early twenty-first century assumes world-historical significance, interrupting the liberal “end of history” thesis of the “rule of property” with the ontological re-emergence of those dispossessed by colonial property regimes.


Special funding for this session is provided by the Humanities Council. 

The Spring 2024 Mellon Forum on the Urban Environment is kindly sponsored by the Mellon Foundation and the Princeton Center for Collaborative History, Departments of Art & Archaeology, English, and Politics, HMEI, PIIRS, SPIA, and the School of Architecture.

Mellon Forum events are free and open to the public. Lunch is provided while supplies last.