Reciprocal Repossession: Property as Land in Urban Australia

Naama Blatman-Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Repossession of land by Indigenous people is commonly understood as a legal act that unfolds within the confines of state apparatuses. But for many Indigenous urbanites, legal repossession is both impossible and irrelevant due to their histories of dispossession and dislocation. Moreover, while land repossession in Australia is predominantly non-urban, I demonstrate that land is also reclaimed within cities. Urban repossession of land, considered here as reciprocal rather than legal, challenges the model of private ownership by asserting a territorially transferable relationship to property as land. The order of property entrenches Indigenous people's dispossession by demanding immobility as precondition to ownership and rendering Indigenous urbanites all “too mobile”. Against this framing and the liquidation of their lands as capital, Indigenous people practice reciprocal forms of repossession that challenge both liberal and traditional meanings of ownership. This helps retrieve urban Indigenous subjectivities while compelling partial relinquishment of non-Indigenous properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1415
Number of pages21
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Indigeneity
  • im/mobility
  • land repossession
  • private property
  • settler-colonial cities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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