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Waves of Dispossession

The Conversion of Land and Labor in Bali’s Recent History

Anette Fagertun

In Bali, land and labor are increasingly defined in terms of the market and dispossession from land, and subsistence is understood as a ‘natural’ precursor of desired ‘development’. The rapidly expanding mass tourism industry today dominates the economy of the province, employs half the workforce, attracts global investors and work migrants, and unceasingly demands land and skilled labor. Three waves of dispossession, all tied to the uses of land and labor, have through ‘accumulation by dispossession’ been key moments of class formation in Bali’s recent history. While the two first waves (re)shaped both land and labor relations, the current wave dislocates and reorganizes labor, producing a moment of enclosure from below that is indicative of a new logic of expulsion.

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Casey Walsh

This article explores the process of centralization of water resources by the Mexican nation-state between 1880 and 1940, and, in particular, how the postrevolutionary state facilitated, after 1920, the transference of control over the Topo Chico mineral springs from the local agrarian community to industrial bottling companies. Using archival evidence, it highlights the importance of science and law in this process and argues that centralization must be understood in terms of “primitive accumulation.” The article focuses on hot mineral springs, which provide a privileged window on centralization and primitive accumulation but are largely ignored in the historiography of water.

Spanish El artículo explora el proceso de centralización de los recursos hídricos por parte del Estado Mexicano entre 1880–1940, y particularmente analiza la manera en que después de 1920 el estado posrevolucionario facilitó la transferencia del control de las comunidades agrarias locales de los manantiales de Topo Chico, a las empresas embotelladoras industriales. Utilizando fuentes de archivo, el autor evidencia la importancia de la ciencia y el derecho en este proceso, y muestra que la centralización debe entenderse con base en la “acumulación primitiva”. Este artículo se centra en el estudio de las fuentes minerales termales, las cuales a pesar de ser una ventana privilegiada para la centralización y la acumulación primitiva, han sido ampliamente ignoradas por la historiografía hídrica.

French Cet article explore le processus de centralisation des ressources hydriques par l'Etat-nation mexicain entre 1880 et 1940, et en particulier la façon dont l'Etat postrévolutionnaire a facilité, à partir de 1920, le transfert du contrôle des sources hydriques de Topo Chico des communautés agraires locales aux entreprises d'embouteillage industriels. Fondé sur les sources documentaires archivistiques, il souligne l'importance de la science et du droit dans ce processus, et fait valoir que la centralisation doit être comprise en termes «d'accumulation primitive». L'article se concentre sur les sources d'eaux minérales chaudes, qui fournissent une fenêtre privilégiée sur la centralisation et l'accumulation primitive, mais sont largement ignorées dans l'historiographie de l'eau.

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Urban tourism via dispossession of oeuvres

Labor as a common denominator

Marc Morell

Most of the anthropology of tourism has focused either on authenticity or on the commoditization of culture. Furthermore, tourism has been looked at as a service sector and, at most, as an urban strategy. Few authors have investigated the organization of (in)formal labor in the tourism industry outside the wage form. I address this gap by looking at the living and dead labor that the production of cultural heritage is about. I argue that the tourism industry transforms long-labored spaces and existing collective use values into commodities. After illustrating this argument with sketches from the Ciutat de Mallorca (Balearic Islands, Spain), I conclude that the relation between the dead labor and the living labor that produce heritage determines people’s differential access to its commoditized outcome.

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Downgraded by Upgrading

Small-scale Traders, Urban Transformation and Spatial Reconfiguration in Post-reform Vietnam

Kirsten W. Endres

This article examines some of the ruptures and contestations that have emerged in the context of urban restructuring and market redevelopment policies in Hanoi, Vietnam. Public markets have become sites of contestation and struggle over the commoditization and use of public urban space: large plots of state-owned real estate in the inner city are handed over to private investment companies for development, in the process of which small-scale traders are losing their means of economic survival in the marketplace. These forms of accumulation by dispossession likewise reflect processes of social and spatial reconfiguration that exclude the urban poor and other 'uncivilized' subjects from public visibility by creating up-scaled spaces of lifestyle and consumption for the newly emerging classes of high-end consumers. Such processes of dispossession are gendered and impact on different kinds of traders in different ways.

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Blood oil

The anatomy of a petro-insurgency in the Niger delta

Michael Watts

This article traces the emergence of an “oil insurgency” in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. A key concept deployed in the analysis is the oil complex, understood as a sort of corporate enclave economy and also a center of political and economic calculation expressed through the operations of a set of local, national, and transnational forces that can only be dubbed as imperial oil. The operations of the oil complex under conditions of U.S. military neoliberalism create the violent and unstable spaces that David Harvey identifies as “accumulation by dispossession”. The insurgency is understood in terms of a deep history of political and economic marginalization and deepening political mobilization and militancy within the Niger Delta. What the oil complex has thereby produced is a fragmented polity with parcellized sovereignty rather than a robust, modern oil nation.

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The meaning of Nandigram

Corporate land invasion, people's power, and the Left in India

Tanika Sarkar and Sumit Chowdhury

This article discusses the events at Nandigram in West Bengal where in 2006-7, a Left Front government collaborated with an Indonesian corporate group to forcibly acquire land from local peasants and construct a Special Economic Zone. The events are placed against the broad processes of accumulation by dispossession through which peasants are losing their land and corporate profits are given priority over food production. The article looks at the working and implications of the policies and the way in which a Communist Party-led government had become complicit with such processes over the last decade. It critically examines the logic that the government offered for the policies: that of the unavoidable necessity of industrialization, demonstrating that industrialization could have been done without fresh and massive land loss and that industries of the new sort do not generate employment or offset the consequences of large scale displacements of peasants. The article's central focus is on the peasant resistance in the face of the brutalities of the party cadres and the police. We explore the meaning of the victory of the peasants at Nandigram against the combined forces of state and corporate power, especially in the context of the present neo-liberal conjuncture.