ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Michael LevienSubscribe to Michael Levien

From Primitive Accumulation to Regimes of Dispossession

Existing theoretical perspectives, whether Marx's primitive accumulation or Harvey's accumulation by dispossession, are not adequate for understanding the political economy of land dispossession under capitalism--in India or elsewhere. This paper advances the concept of "regimes of dispossession" as a better way of understanding how dispossession is politically organised in different socio-historical contexts to serve different class interests with variable economic effects and political "success." The land-grabs of the neo-liberal period in India represent the emergence of a new regime of redistributing landed wealth upwards, one that is demonstrably less "developmental" than its Nehruvian predecessor--and certainly more politically tenuous. The paper shows how the concept of regimes of dispossession aids in a better understanding of (i) the relationship between land-grabs and specific historical phases of capitalism, and (ii) India's contemporary land question.

Rationalising Dispossession: The Land Acquisition and Resettlement Bills

The rapidly expanding demand for land under India's neoliberal regime has been confronted with a relatively inelastic supply. Farmers and other landholders are unwilling to relinquish their means of production to capitalists. This has led to a proliferation of pitched battles across India against all kinds of land acquisition. The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill (2009) and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill (2009) therefore need to be examined carefully. The proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act will only facilitate the State's new role as the land broker-in-chief. The Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill will help the Land Acquisition Bill in "rationalising" dispossession by ensuring a more secure and predictable corporate access to land.
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