BRENNA BHANDARRacial Regimes of Ownership: Law, Colonialism and the Violence of Abstraction
The co-eval development of forms of measurement of value in property and labour can be traced through two very different conjunctures. One is the creation of registries for both land title and life insurance, which erupted in different colonial sites in the year 1858. The second conjuncture is encapsulated in two paintings by J. M. W. Turner, Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying – Typhoon Coming On (1840) and A Disaster at Sea (1835). Both shipwrecks expose the temporal complexities of the propertisation of human life in different forms of unfree labour, and the ways in which modern methods of measurement and their representation in legal forms work to conceal violence premised on the subordination and exploitation of racial and gendered subjects.
Brenna Bhandar is Senior Lecturer in Law at SOAS, University of London. Her forthcoming monograph, Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership (2018) explores how modern laws of property have been articulated in conjunction with racial subjectivity in the colonial contexts of Australia, Canada and Palestine. She is also co-editor of Plastic Materialities: Legality, Politics and Metamorphosis in the work of Catherine Malabou (2015), with Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller.