When: Tuesday, 25 April 2023, 3:00pm-4:30pm (UTC+3).
Where: Porthania Building, Room P673, University of Helsinki. You can also join us online via the Zoom link below:
Meeting ID: 654 7646 7152
Title: Homesteading and the American Dream
It was long the pursuit of land that gave rise to the idea of the American Dream—the promise that any person, no matter their background, might find in that country a home of their own. But that pursuit, by European colonists, of Native nations' lands, was induced by laws-- a long and unbroken line of laws promising migrant settlers title to land in exchange for performing the labor of conquest. The first such law, creating Virginia's headright system, began almost by accident, but the use of lands to induce occupation spread like a rash across the colonies. This promise of ownership, if an individual would occupy land for a term of years, build upon it, and cultivate it, was echoed precisely by the famous Homestead Act of 1862. Here, I describe this tradition of laws, which drew the forces that fueled conquest for centuries, and invested settlers personally in the dispossession and displacement of non-white communities by making that racial violence the condition of their property, security and future.