Monday, April 14, 2014

PennLaw: Property Rights in South Asia


The PennLaw is hosting an upcoming two-day workshop to explore property law regimes in South Asian societies. While the full conference papers aren't yet available, it's worth checking out the very interesting paper abstracts that are posted. The papers cover a range of topics including property rights under sharia law, land rights in post-colonial countries, and women's property rights under Indian law. The conference theme is described as follows:

What is property? Considered in the context of the contemporary societies of South Asia—with their bursting populations, pervasive land hunger, and ongoing tug of war between the urban and the agrarian, the developmental and the neoliberal, and the elite and subaltern—the answer may seem to go without saying. The question’s extreme simplicity of form, however, should not conceal the great complexity it harbors. Even strictly from the contemporary perspective—whether philosophical, legal, or economic—there is little agreement on the nature and basis of property. Is there a difference between property and the right to property? Are rights, themselves, inherently proprietary? If we speak of property as a social relation must we necessarily also be speaking about rights that are in some sense legal? What is the relationship between the logic of property and the logic of commodification? What of property’s relationship to possession, occupancy, use, and de facto control? Does that relationship imply that property is simply the reality of control over things in the world or is it a conceptual system for representing how control over such things is organized, parsed, and reckoned with? Is there something inherently Eurocentric or otherwise misleading about calling all such conceptual systems by the name of ‘property’? If we restrict our focus to property in land or rudimentary—rather than highly financialized—‘moveables’ are these difficulties likely to multiply or diminish? Finally, how do we go about meaningfully interrogating these questions not just through reference to our contemporary world but the much more daunting historical worlds of the past?

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