Land and property rights in colonial contexts: An introduction

José Vicente Serrão


This issue explores, from a historical perspective, the role played by land and property rights in European colonization and empire building. More specifically, it focuses on the institutions defining and regulating these rights, trying to understand how, why and with what consequences they were conceived and implemented in colonial contexts. For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that following a now commonly accepted view in economic history, institutions are here understood to be the rules and norms, whether written or not, of any given society. Property rights or, more broadly defined land rights, refer to the ownership, tenure, use and transfer of land.


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