Planning Without Property?

Authors: Heather Dorries*, Carleton University
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: racial capitalism, property, planning, Indigeneity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Washington 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While planning is often imagined as a technical practice concerning the race-neutral administration of land, planning has been shown to construct and mobilize the property regime in ways that facilitate Indigenous dispossession. In this paper, I argue that planning is a tool that has been effective in maintaining racial regimes of property not only in so far as it operates through the management of land, but also in the ways it accords a set of property rights and privileges by determining who has the right to participate in planning processes. Focusing on the Canadian context, I demonstrate how planning mobilizes the Indian Act to differentially accord access to planning. In the application of this racist and gendered legal framework represented by the Indian Act, planning identifies the proper subjects planning, and in so doing, not only recognizes but makes subjects. In this way, planning reaffirms the racial property regime and upholds a system of privilege that accords significant economic and political gains to non-Indigenous peoples, while enabling the criminalization of Indigenous expressions of political authority. In conclusion, I ask what possibilities, if any, might exist for an approach to planning that is not built on property, but instead draws upon Indigenous epistemologies of belonging, care, and responsibility to suggest alternatives forms of making political community.

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