The State of Nature and Colonialism: Empty vs Waste Land at Home and Abroad
Barbara Arneil

March 21, 2023, 9:00am - 10:30am

This event is online


Monash University

Topic areas


The ‘state of nature’ has many meanings.  In previous research, I have analyzed how John Locke’s understanding of the state of nature is central to his colonial justifications of settlers’ right to property in ‘waste’ lands of America via his agrarian labour theory of property.  While land and agrarian labour have been central to the process of colonization back to its earliest etymological origins in the Latin word ‘colonia’, in this paper I examine how the positing of land in its natural state as ‘empty’ or ‘waste’ in the modern British colonial imagination has shaped domestic and settler colonial policies from the 17th to 19th centuries; manifested in the practices of enclosure in Britain, dispossession in America and mass resettlement/removal of ‘idle’ and/or ‘irrational’ people(s) both at home and abroad.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




March 21, 2023, 8:00pm +10:00

External Site

Who is attending?

1 person is attending:

Concordia University

See all

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.

RSVPing on PhilEvents is not sufficient to register for this event.