Placing Property: Theorizing the Urban from Settler Colonial Cities


In the conspicuously geographical debate between ‘North’ and ‘South’ urbanism, settler colonial cities remain displaced. They are located in the ‘North’ but embody ‘South‐like’ colonial dynamics and are hence neither colonial nor postcolonial. Heeding the call to theorize from ‘any city’, this article aims to contribute to a more systematic theorization of the urban from settler colonial cities. In it we focus on the work property does to materialize the settler colonial city and its specific relations of power. We identify three faces of property—as object, as redress and as land—and use case vignettes from Israel/Palestine and Australia to consider how each register continues to inform the functioning of settler colonial cities. We find that, through property, dispossession and settlement are continuously performed and creatively enacted. At the same time, the performance of property reaffirms the endurance of Indigenous land systems amid ongoing colonization. The article makes a contribution to contemporary debates in urban studies about the importance of surfacing the specificities of urban experiences around the world, while further unsettling the dissociative nature of urban property.