Reframing So-Called Primitive Accumulation for Settler Colonial Contexts: Ancestral Enclosures and Spatial Conceptions of History

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The question of land must be centered if anti-capitalist and anticolonial camaraderies are to be sustained between settler and Indigenous peoples. This essay suggests that enclosures of Indigenous homelands, or what might be called primitive accumulations in the Marxist tradition, are not always understood by settlers who are inclined to transpose European experiences onto Indigenous ones. Enclosures of Indigenous homelands cut people off not only from the “means of production” and material foundations forming a way of life, but also from their national futurity, living kin, and spiritual relationships. For the purposes of this essay, this experiential difference is marked by the concept of ancestral enclosures. Theorizations of settler colonialism as a temporally fluid and ongoing system of domination synchronizes with recent Marxist scholarship on primitive accumulation from Harvey (accumulation by dispossession), De Angelis (the continuity of primitive accumulation), and others. My argument emphasizes that the temporal continuity of primitive accumulation must be understood alongside heterogeneous ontologies, attending not only to the "when" but also the "what" of primitive accumulation. The concept of ancestral enclosures is therefore crucial for settler colonial contexts where it is not only the “means of production” that is seized, but also a living, breathing ancestor.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCapitalism, Nature, Socialism
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • Indigenous homelands
  • Primitive accumulation
  • ancestral enclosures
  • settler colonialism
  • spatial conceptions of history‌

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