Political technologies of post-socialist land enclosure

Authors: Vera Smirnova*, Higher School of Economics
Topics: Political Geography, Russia, Geographic Thought
Keywords: land, property, enclosure, post-socialism, Russia
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 35
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Private property in capitalism is territorialized and sustained in particular ways, grounded in Eurocentric modernity’s firm legal and spatial borders. Western liberal ideals of land ownership were attempted by Russian policymakers not least twice throughout history. Pyotr Stolypin and Sergei Witte called for individual freedoms rooted in the strong hands of a peasant landowner forcefully separated from the land commune in 1906, while the Russian Land Code of 2001 opened ownership of vast swaps of land to consolidated agroholding enterprises, predated on the bankruptcy of collective land tenure. Yet throughout history, the Russian political rationale has escaped the modern lineages of property as a jurisdictional enclosure of land under the sovereign rule of an individual or a group of people, making insecure and unrecognized property more secure. With this dilemma in mind, the proposed paper builds on a series of interviews with local officials and actors behind the recent land privatization reforms in Russia to trace the fuzzy boundaries of the post-socialist property, its informal political technologies, and spatial rationale. Thus, outlining the long historical legacy of individual and collective landed relations in Russia allows to extract particular conceptualizations of the “post-socialist” spatial relations of power, without falling into the temporal and geographical limits of the term.

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