Lecture | How did Indigenous Land Become Colonists’ Property?


McLennan Library Building Rare Books and Special Collections, 4th floor, 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0C9, CA

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We will be filming the lecture. It will be posted on the Library Youtube page one week after the event.

When European monarchs claimed the right to rule over portions of what they called the New World, it did not automatically follow that the Indigenous peoples living there would lose control of their lands. How then did colonists transform land into property for their own benefit? Looking closely at the early stages of dispossession and settler property formation in New Spain (Mexico), New England and New France (Canada), Allan Greer discovers a surprising degree of uncertainty and improvisation in these three very different histories.

Open to all.

Special exhibition and light reception to follow.

This event is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.


Prof. Allan Greer

McGill Department of History and Classical Studies

Allan Greer came to McGill in 2009 from the University of Toronto.  He has also held appointments at the University of British Columbia and the University of Maine, and was a visiting fellow at the John Carter Brown Library (Providence, RI), Clare Hall, Cambridge University and the Institut d'études avancées de Paris. 

Greer’s current project examines questions of property formation in New France, New Spain and New England.  This synthetic and comparative study analyzes the processes by which settler forms of land tenure emerged and natives were dispossessed from the 16th to the 18th century.  This research has been supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Killam Foundation.

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