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The Land Question in IndiaState, Dispossession, and Capitalist Transition$
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Anthony P. D'Costa and Achin Chakraborty

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198792444

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198792444.001.0001

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From Primitive Accumulation to Regimes of Dispossession

From Primitive Accumulation to Regimes of Dispossession

Theses on India’s Land Question

(p.49) 2 From Primitive Accumulation to Regimes of Dispossession
The Land Question in India

Michael Levien

Oxford University Press

Since the mid-2000s, proliferating “land wars” have exposed a contradiction between the land requirements of neoliberal capitalism and the political weight of farmers in India’s democracy. Whether, how, and for whom this contradiction is resolved constitutes India’s “new” land question. But this chapter argues that Marx’s “primitive accumulation” or Harvey’s “accumulation by dispossession” are inadequate to understand this conjuncture; and it advances the concept of “regimes of dispossession” as an alternative. It argues that from the early 1990s, India shifted from a regime that dispossessed land for state-led projects of material expansion to one that dispossesses land for private and decreasingly productive investments. This new regime, in which states have become mere land brokers for private capital, is arguably less “developmental” than its Nehruvian predecessor. The upshot is that India’s “land wars” are unlikely to dissipate any time soon; and the “land question” may be the largest contradiction for Indian capitalism for the foreseeable future.

Keywords:   primitive accumulation, accumulation by dispossession, regimes of dispossession, land question, land wars, India

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