University of Leicester
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Gendered Dispossession And Settler Colonialism: A Feminist Carceral Analysis Of The Privatization Of Indigenous Land

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posted on 2019-02-14, 14:55 authored by Salem K. A. Hicks
This theoretically based thesis employs a critical feminist analysis to examine the gendered aspects inherent in the implementation of private property on Indigenous reserve land in Canada. Although Indigenous peoples in Canada have previously rejected privatization of their reserve lands for fear of assimilation of their traditional lands to market-based commodification and rationalities, as well as fragmentation and reduction of their traditional land base, versions of privatization policies continue to be advocated by some government officials, think tanks, scholars, and a small but significant number of Indigenous peoples themselves. With the Canadian governmental shifts to neoliberal socioeconomic policies converging, in some ways, with Indigenous demands for more self-determination, it is foreseeable that both the anxiety and appeal of privatization of Indigenous reserve lands will resurface. Recent advocates of privatization of reserve lands present it as necessary for unlocking the market value of dead capital in land leading to investment certainty thereby unleashing an entrepreneurial “spirit” leading to prosperity. The neoliberal ideological linkage of private property to purportedly emancipatory entrepreneurialism is depoliticized from historical and ongoing gendered and racial colonialism. Settler colonial dispossession of Indigenous women from their traditional relationships to land and labour, coupled with current growing expectations of women as participants in entrepreneurialism, has inspired the main question of the thesis as: How does the contemporary rationalization of private property for First Nations reserve land operate as a gendered tool of dispossession for Indigenous women? To answer this question, this thesis uses an interdisciplinary socio-political lens to interrogate the First Nations Private Property Ownership Act (FNPOA) as a contemporary example of Indigenous land privatization policy. It is argued that the logic underlying the policy, including entrepreneurialism as dependent on private property, along with gender-blind historical revisionism, operates to erase and obscure not only the historical colonial dispossession of Indigenous women but also the current carceral mechanisms in capitalism that work to maintain the heteropatriarchal settler state status quo. The thesis employs an interdisciplinary framework drawing on Indigenous feminist theory and carceral geography, historicizing historical and anthropological research to elucidate how past dispossession is still operational in the contemporary state. This critical feminist analysis unsettles the common sense of private property and contributes to feminist engagement with settler colonial studies.



Brace, Laura

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of Politics and International Relations

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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