Prospects for an Anthropology of Property

Call for Papers, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting 2019 (Vancouver)

Property has been an object of anthropological inquiry since the discipline’s beginnings. Anthropologists have used property to explain everything from the evolution of society and the nature of exchange to forms of kinship, social structure, and political and economic change. Others have used the concept of property as an entry point to question the utility of Western categories in anthropological work.

As anthropology grapples with current matters of disciplinary and political concern – authoritarianism, racism, inequality, climate change, decolonization, financialization, migration, to name a few – does the study of property indeed hold constructive and creative potential, as Malinowski once claimed? What are the challenges and possibilities of ethnographic fieldwork on property? What might the concept of property open up, and what might it foreclose?

This panel invites reflection on what a renewed approach to property in anthropology might look like, and what it might teach us. We are seeking ethnographically driven papers on any subject broadly related to property. Examples of topics might include:

  • Racialized or colonial property regimes
  • Debt
  • Intellectual or cultural property
  • Land claims
  • Financialization
  • Temporality and property
  • Housing and eviction
  • Settler colonialism
  • Property and violence
  • Dispossession
  • Property and materiality
  • Property reform/resistance
  • Environmental politics
  • Property and embodiment
  • Alternative models of property

Please send a title, 150-250 word abstract, and contact information to,,, and by March 22, 2019.