The links between states, “free” markets internally and externally (which is a somewhat false or at least misleading distinction), the population (“nation”), and the territories or lands identified with such constructions are vast and interconnected. Claims to land titles are often contested, however, disputes are rarely settled in favor of those with less political or economic leverage. Natural resources in general are going to be of crucial importance in the coming decades, needless to say, but I think the issue of land usage and ownership is especially prescient when trying to connect the dots between the constructions (states, markets, nations) which interact in metaphysical and very concrete ways.
I have been thinking about land ownership a lot lately, especially because we have been studying in places where land is conceptualized in a distinctively different way than often in the United States. Living in and around communally used land has brought the issue of land more into my consciousness as I find myself repeatedly noticing my own assumptions. Even though the political scientists and politicians who have been promoting “democratization” work from the basis that the state is an entity distinct from the market and civil society (as Morton discusses p.184-187), the issue of land shows the true overlaps between these supposedly separate forces. The overlaps include many states’ active role in ensuring and protecting private property for individuals. But who gets protected? Land use and ownership has been an issue of survival for hundreds of years. This struggle/conflict has had a distinct twist in the last fifty years where privatization has become a major player, disrupting historical patterns of living, working etc. With the push for more privatization and infrastructure geared towards manufacturing or resource extraction, the autonomous zones of the Zapatista movement prove all the more courageous and incredible. I aim to turn now to my specific relationship to land in order to conceptualize it given the readings and experiences we’ve had.
My father currently lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he has worked at Colorado State University for over thirty years. He is still paying mortage on a house. He and his wife, Gailmarie, have put a lot of time and energy into making the house comfortable, efficient (energy and a big garden) and beautiful (brightly painted walls inside). I am fairly sure that instead of leaving me with dollars when they pass, I will instead inherit this house along with my sister. This will not be for a couple decades, as my stepmother is only 45 and in good health. This all puts me in an interesting position: I identify as a young, anti-capitalist, anti-oppression, pro-creativity woman who will some day have “claim” to a livable/workable space. When I start thinking about the possibilities of what I can do with this area I am aware of two things: my privilege and the possibilities. The idea that down the road I will be most likely inheriting a functional shelter/space in a decently sized town with a big vegetable garden already going is a pretty incredible cushion that I have in my future. I don’t think it about it very often but the reading made me consider how in many steps along the way, the government or “state” was involved in the process of my father buying a house. I have no doubt at all that his white privilege was incredibly crucial in obtaining it. This white privilege is especially informed by a working class population of Latinos who existed as the comparison, the fear of the white citizens and politicians. If/when I do inherit the space in Colorado, there are many possibilities for what I could do with it. I am especially interested in a women’s health clinic (for women, by women) and an educational center (hopefully for all ages). The process of creating and sustaining such projects is of upmost importance and will ultimately determine how things play out. I believe that as it gets harder to survive within the capitalist system and more people move to living and working outside the market, relationships will be central and spaces crucial. Reclaiming and utilizing all possible space is a radical declaration against encroaching institutions and markets.