Symposium on Lusophone Land Legacies in Global Perspective

Susanna Barnes's picture
Call for Papers
October 26, 2020
Saskatchewan, Canada
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Social History / Studies, Southeast Asian History / Studies, Spanish and Portuguese History / Studies, Geography


Call for Papers:

Symposium on Lusophone Land Legacies in Global Perspective

Proposals due: 26 October 2020

Anthropology History Political ecology Human geography Gender studies


We invite scholars studying the history and contemporary legacies of Portuguese colonial practices relating to land formalisation to submit proposals for a May/June 2021 Symposium, from which papers will be selected for publication in an edited volume.  Professor Tania Li (University of Toronto) will be delivering the keynote address and participating in a question-and-answer session.


Colonial-era land practices have enduring effects: they continue to shape land classification, policies, administration, and legislation in modern independent nations. How were colonial land interventions implemented and transformed across time, geographies, and contexts, and through what means did they leave their traces up to the present day? To understand the

process of land policy evolution, we trace the circulation and legacies of colonial and contemporary land formalisation dispersed worldwide: how land access, rights, and ownership became codified. Originated by scholars of Timor-Leste, this Symposium focuses on the ongoing legacy of land formalisation in areas colonised by the Portuguese in Asia, South America, and Africa, but intentionally seeks to foreground connections with other colonial experiences. We explore where land policies and practices travelled throughout colonial territories, how different actors used them, and the circulation of land experts and expertise within and among colonial Empires as well as today’s nation-states and international development institutions.


This Symposium is part of a project that examines the legacies of colonialism on contemporary issues of pressing concern such as access to land, bureaucracies of resource control and social exclusion, and land policy mobility. We seek to understand these larger phenomena through fine-grained, site-specific ethnography/microhistories and geographically comparative work.


Among former Portuguese colonies or different colonial regimes, topics of interest include:

  • Portability and mobilisation of concepts, policies, and practices of land formalisation
  • State and non-state actors’ creation of land ownership documents
  • Non-state adaptation or replication of formalised state land artifacts or practices
  • Biographies of key figures, events, and institutions influential in promoting and disseminating the need for standardised land formalisation
  • Modern impacts of specific colonial land legislation or practices
  • Land assessment, measurement, and taxation in colonial and post-colonial contexts
  • Chronologies of formalised land access, exclusion/dispossession, eviction, and allocation
  • Creation and execution of semi-formalised land management mechanisms, such as dispute resolution or state involvement in participatory claim processes
  • Implications, including gender implications, of state definitions of household units and leadership in land titling
  • Historical trajectories of plantation systems and land concessions
  • Role of artifacts (such as land tax receipts) in claim-making and legitimising ownership


Interested individuals may submit a 250-word abstract and a c.v. by 26 October 2020 for consideration. Symposium organisers will review abstracts, and invited authors will submit full drafts (5,000-7,000 words) by April 2021, ahead of participation in the Symposium planned (as a virtually or hybrid event) at the University of Saskatchewan, in late May eary June 2021. Symposium authors agree to read all the submitted papers in advance of the Symposium, which will workshop focused formative feedback and provide suggestions for each invited author in turn, rather than presentations. If ongoing health/travel restrictions prohibit an in-person event at that time, we will have a virtual Symposium. After the Symposium, revised contributions will go through a peer review process with selected papers proceeding for publication. The editors have limited funds available to defray the cost of travel to the Symposium for early career, emerging, and unaffiliated scholars. Lack of funds to travel to the Symposium will not be considered a barrier to participation in the Symposium and edited volume.


Please send the abstract and c.v. to the editors Dr Susanna Barnes and Dr Laura Meitzner Yoder at and



Abstracts to special issue editors – 26 October 2020

Acceptance notification – 15 November 2020

Full paper drafts submitted for circulation to Symposium participants – 15 April 2021

Symposium at University of Saskatchewan – late May/ early June 2021

Final revised submissions submitted for peer review – 15 August 2021

Revised submissions (and any image permissions) to editors – 15 February 2022

Contact Info: 

Susanna Barnes

Assistant Professor

Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

University of Saskatchewan


Laura S. Meitzner Yoder

John Stott Chair and Director

Program in Human Needs and Global Resources

Professor of Environmental Studies

Wheaton College, Illinois, USA

Contact Email: