Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of Chicago

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Chicago
Relations of Dispossession: Property and Sovereignty in Colombia’s Land Restitution Program

This project examines the making of property, sovereignty, and legality through an ethnographic study of dispossession and restitution of land in Colombia. I will undertake this research through an ethnographic examination of Colombia's state-sponsored restitution program, which aims to restore and grant title to over six million hectares of land – approximately five percent of the country's territory – to people displaced and dispossessed in the country's ongoing armed conflict. In Colombia, about five million people are internally displaced – more than in any other country in the world. By following several restitution cases, I will examine how displaced claimants, opposing parties, armed actors, and state officials create and contest property rules in the processes of dispossession and restitution that are at issue in those cases. Understanding the property relations and rules involved in claims to dispossession and restitution, and how they are negotiated in these processes of contestation, becomes a crucial window into how sovereignty is made in the region, as the state, guerrilla and paramilitary groups, and local communities assert authority through control over land. These processes also provide insight into how notions of legality are created, as citizens and armed actors mobilize formal and informal rules in order to claim land. Through this research, I aim to bring into conversation and contribute to continuing debates within the humanistic social sciences around property and social relations, sovereignty, and law and legality.