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Global PopulationHistory, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth$
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Alison Bashford

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231147668

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231147668.001.0001

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Waste Lands

Waste Lands

Sovereignty and the Anticolonial History of World Population

(p.133) 5 Waste Lands
Global Population

Alison Bashford

Columbia University Press

This chapter illustrates the intimate relationship between colonialism and world population growth. For a time, the colonizing of global empty spaces—“waste lands”—was rationalized as a means to accommodate the colonizing nation's increasing modernization and overpopulation, and that the more recent development of all unoccupied lands being assimilated into modern political systems curtails the colonizers' attempts to make use of a spatial resource. Occupation of waste lands now had to undergo negotiation as per the law of nations, complicating the simpler colonial process of sovereignty over a given territory. Of course, the rights of a state to occupy waste lands would frequently be called into question; it is argued that the right of land occupation might simply be a matter of need, thus translating the spatial politics of earth to the politics of life.

Keywords:   colonialism, world population growth, global empty spaces, waste lands, overpopulation, modern political systems, sovereignty, land occupation, politics of earth, politics of life

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