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

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From Primitive Accumulation to Regimes of Dispossession

Six Theses on India’s Land Question

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.

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