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

John Locke and the Governance of India's Landscape: The Category of Wasteland in Colonial Revenue and Forest Legislation

The influence of John Locke's theory of property on the policies governing India's landscape is examined in this paper. Locke's concept of wasteland, as opposed to value-producing land, constituted a founding binary opposition that constructed how landscapes were categorised. The period under study covers the Permanent Settlement (1793), the Ryotwari Settlement of Bombay, and the India Forest Acts (1865 and 1878). It is shown as to how the categories of waste and productive land were applied to groups supposedly attached to different landscapes, i e, "tribes" and "castes". Associated with wildness, wilderness, and savagery in the 19th century, the category of wasteland also defined who would and who would not become most vulnerable to dispossession and/or enclosure.

Subscribers please login to access full text of the article.

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

826for India

$50for overseas users

Get instant access to the complete EPW archives

Subscribe now


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top