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Dancing on Violent Ground
Utopia as Dispossession in Euro-American Theater Dance
Arabella Stanger
Northwestern University Press, 2021
The politics of theater dance is commonly theorized in relation to bodily freedom, resistance, agitation, or repair. This book questions those utopian imaginaries, arguing that the visions and sensations of canonical Euro-American choreographies carry hidden forms of racial violence, not in the sense of the physical or psychological traumas arising in the practice of these arts but through the histories of social domination that materially underwrite them.

Developing a new theory of choreographic space, Arabella Stanger shows how embodied forms of hope promised in ballet and progressive dance modernisms conceal and depend on spatial operations of imperial, colonial, and racial subjection. Stanger unearths dance’s violent ground by interrogating the expansionist fantasies of Marius Petipa’s imperial ballet, settler colonial and corporate land practices in the modern dance of Martha Graham and George Balanchine, reactionary discourses of the human in Rudolf von Laban’s and Oskar Schlemmer’s movement geometries; Merce Cunningham’s experimentalism as a white settler fantasy of the land of the free, and the imperial amnesia of Boris Charmatz’s interventions into metropolitan museums. Drawing on materialist thought, critical race theory, and indigenous studies, Stanger ultimately advocates for dance studies to adopt a position of “critical negativity,” an analytical attitude attuned to how dance’s exuberant modeling of certain forms of life might provide cover for life-negating practices. Bold in its arguments and rigorous in its critique, Dancing on Violent Ground asks how performance scholars can develop a practice of thinking hopefully, without expunging history from their site of analysis.

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Debt and Dispossession
Farm Loss in America's Heartland
Kathryn Marie Dudley
University of Chicago Press, 2000
Winner of the Margaret Mead Award of the Society for Applied Anthropology

The farm crisis of the 1980s was the worst economic disaster to strike rural America since the Depression—thousands of farmers lost their land and homes, irrevocably altering their communities and, as Kathryn Marie Dudley shows, giving rise to devastating social trauma that continues to affect farmers today. Through interviews with residents of an agricultural county in western Minnesota, Dudley provides an incisive account of the moral dynamics of loss, dislocation, capitalism, and solidarity in farming communities.

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Plundering German Jewry, 1933-1953
Christoph Kreutzmüller and Jonathan R. Zatlin, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2020
This collection of essays by a range of international, multidisciplinary scholars explores the financial history, social significance, and cultural meanings of the theft, starting in 1933, of assets owned by German Jews. Despite the fraught topic and the ongoing legal discussions, the subject has not received much scholarly attention until now. This volume offers a much needed contribution to our understanding of the history of the period and the acts. The essays examine the confiscatory taxation of Jewish property, the looting of art and confiscation of gold, the role of German freight forwarders in property theft, salesmen and dispossession in the retail world, theft from the elderly, and the complicity of the banking industry, as well as the reach of the practice beyond German borders.

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Economic Women
Essays on Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture
Lana L. Dalley and Jill Rappoport
The Ohio State University Press, 2013
Economic Women: Essays on Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture, edited by Lana L. Dalley and Jill Rappoport, showcases the wide-ranging economic activities and relationships of real and fictional women in nineteenth-century British culture. This volume’s essays chronicle the triumphs and setbacks of women who developed, described, contested, and exploited new approaches to economic thought and action. In their various roles as domestic employees, activists fighting for free trade, theorists developing statistical models, and individuals considering the cost of marriage and its dissolution, the women discussed here were givers and takers, producers and consumers.
Bringing together leading and emerging voices in the field, this collection builds on the wealth of interdisciplinary economic criticism published in the last twenty years, but it also challenges traditional understandings of economic subjectivity by emphasizing both private and public records and refusing to identify a single female corollary to Economic Man. The scholars presented here recover game-changing stories of women’s economic engagement from diaries, letters, ledgers, fiction, periodicals, and travel writing to reveal a nuanced portrait of Economic Women. Offering new readings of works by George Eliot, Bram Stoker, Willkie Collins, Charlotte Riddell, and Ellen Wood, and addressing political economy, consumerism, and business developments alongside the ethics of exchange and family finances, Economic Women tells a story of ambivalence as well as achievement, failure as well as forward motion.

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Markets of Dispossession
NGOs, Economic Development, and the State in Cairo
Julia Elyachar
Duke University Press, 2005
What happens when the market tries to help the poor? In many parts of the world today, neoliberal development programs are offering ordinary people the tools of free enterprise as the means to well-being and empowerment. Schemes to transform the poor into small-scale entrepreneurs promise them the benefits of the market and access to the rewards of globalization. Markets of Dispossession is a theoretically sophisticated and sobering account of the consequences of these initiatives.

Julia Elyachar studied the efforts of bankers, social scientists, ngo members, development workers, and state officials to turn the craftsmen and unemployed youth of Cairo into the vanguard of a new market society based on microenterprise. She considers these efforts in relation to the alternative notions of economic success held by craftsmen in Cairo, in which short-term financial profit is not always highly valued. Through her careful ethnography of workshop life, Elyachar explains how the traditional market practices of craftsmen are among the most vibrant modes of market life in Egypt. Long condemned as backward, these existing market practices have been seized on by social scientists and development institutions as the raw materials for experiments in “free market” expansion. Elyachar argues that the new economic value accorded to the cultural resources and social networks of the poor has fueled a broader process leading to their economic, social, and cultural dispossession.


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Migrants and City-Making
Dispossession, Displacement, and Urban Regeneration
Ayse Caglar and Nina Glick Schiller
Duke University Press, 2018
In Migrants and City-Making Ayşe Çağlar and Nina Glick Schiller trace the participation of migrants in the unequal networks of power that connect their lives to regional, national, and global institutions. Grounding their work in comparative ethnographies of three cities struggling to regain their former standing—Mardin, Turkey; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Halle/Saale, Germany—Çağlar and Glick Schiller challenge common assumptions that migrants exist on society’s periphery, threaten social cohesion, and require integration. Instead Çağlar and Glick Schiller explore their multifaceted role as city-makers, including their relationships to municipal officials, urban developers, political leaders, business owners, community organizers, and social justice movements. In each city Çağlar and Glick Schiller met with migrants from around the world; attended cultural events, meetings, and religious services; and patronized migrant-owned businesses, allowing them to gain insights into the ways in which migrants build social relationships with non-migrants and participate in urban restoration and development. In exploring the changing historical contingencies within which migrants live and work, Çağlar and Glick Schiller highlight how city-making invariably involves engaging with the far-reaching forces that dispossess people of their land, jobs, resources, neighborhoods, and hope. 

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Post-Soviet Chaos
Violence and Dispossession in Kazakhstan
Joma Nazpary
Pluto Press, 2001

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Form and Dispossession
Vincent Barletta
University of Chicago Press, 2020
More than the persistent beat of a song or the structural frame of poetry, rhythm is a deeply imbedded force that drives our world and is also a central component of the condition of human existence. It’s the pulse of the body, a power that orders matter, a strange and natural force that flows through us. Virginia Woolf describes it as a “wave in the mind” that carries us, something we can no more escape than we could stop our hearts from beating.

Vincent Barletta explores rhythm through three historical moments, each addressing it as a phenomenon that transcends poetry, aesthetics, and even temporality. He reveals rhythm to be a power that holds us in place, dispossesses us, and shapes the foundations of our world. In these moments, Barletta encounters rhythm as a primordial and physical binding force that establishes order and form in the ancient world, as the anatomy of lived experience in early modern Europe, and as a subject of aesthetic and ethical questioning in the twentieth century.

A wide-ranging book covering a period spanning two millennia and texts from over ten languages, Rhythm will expand the conversation around this complex and powerful phenomenon.

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The Terms of Our Surrender
Colonialism, Dispossession and the Resistance of the Innu
Elizabeth Cassell
University of London Press, 2021
An analysis of the laws determining indigenous land ownership in eastern Canada.
Based on extensive fieldwork and oral history, The Terms of Our Surrender is a powerful critical appraisal of unceded indigenous land ownership in eastern Canada. Set against an ethnographic, historical, and legal framework, this book traces the myriad ways the Canadian state has evaded the 1763 Royal Proclamation that guaranteed First Nations people a right to their land and way of life.

Focusing on the Innu of Quebec and Labrador, whose land has been taken for resource extraction and development, this book strips back the law of fiduciary duty to its origins. The Terms of Our Surrender argues for the preservation of land ownership and positions First Nations people as natural land defenders amidst a devastating climate crisis. This volume offers a voice to the Innu people, detailing the spirituality practices, culture, and values that make it impossible for them to willingly cede their land.

This book is intended to bridge the gap in knowledge between legal practitioners and those working at the intersections of human rights, social work, and public policy. It offers a potent template for using the law to fight back against the indignities suffered by indigenous communities.

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Theft Is Property!
Dispossession and Critical Theory
Robert Nichols
Duke University Press, 2020
Drawing on Indigenous peoples' struggles against settler colonialism, Theft Is Property! reconstructs the concept of dispossession as a means of explaining how shifting configurations of law, property, race, and rights have functioned as modes of governance, both historically and in the present. Through close analysis of arguments by Indigenous scholars and activists from the nineteenth century to the present, Robert Nichols argues that dispossession has come to name a unique recursive process whereby systematic theft is the mechanism by which property relations are generated. In so doing, Nichols also brings long-standing debates in anarchist, Black radical, feminist, Marxist, and postcolonial thought into direct conversation with the frequently overlooked intellectual contributions of Indigenous peoples.

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Violent Utopia
Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa
Jovan Scott Lewis
Duke University Press, 2022
In Violent Utopia Jovan Scott Lewis retells the history and afterlife of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, from the post-Reconstruction migration of Black people to Oklahoma Indian Territory to contemporary efforts to rebuild Black prosperity. He focuses on how the massacre in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood—colloquially known as Black Wall Street—curtailed the freedom built there. Rather than framing the massacre as a one-off event, Lewis places it in a larger historical and social context of widespread patterns of anti-Black racism, segregation, and dispossession in Tulsa and beyond. He shows how the processes that led to the massacre, subsequent urban renewal, and intergenerational poverty shored up by nonprofits constitute a form of continuous slow violence. Now, in their attempts to redevelop resources for self-determination, Black Tulsans must reconcile a double inheritance: the massacre’s violence and the historical freedom and prosperity that Greenwood represented. Their future is tied to their geography, which is the foundation from which they will repair and fulfill Greenwood’s promise.

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