School of Law | Our staff | Dr Sarah Keenan | Research interests
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Research interests

Sarah's research draws on legal geography, feminist and critical race theory to rethink the relationship between membership and ownership, offering new perspectives on a range of social, legal and political issues.  Her book Subversive Property: Law and the Production of Spaces of Belonging (Routledge 2014) develops a theory of property as a spatially contingent relation of belonging - a relation that can be understood as a blurring of ownership and membership, but that will only form property when it is ‘held up’ by the space in and through which it exists, that is, when the wider social processes, structures and networks that constitute space give force to that relation.  In particular, her work explores how 'identity' characteristics' such as race, gender and sexuality can operate as property in certain contexts.  She has explored these ideas in relation to refugee determinations in states of the Global North, and to the Australian settler colonial state (including the recent Northern Territory Intervention).

Currently Sarah's research is focussed on the role of land title registration in the production of categories of race.  Engaging with critical race theory from a range of disciplines, she explores how the temporal order of land title registries obscure and block particular historical relationships with land, rendering them unlawful, precarious and temporary.  Those who hold such relationships lose control of local land use and are placed into categories that, she argues, materialise as race. Sarah is exploring these ideas in the context of the Torrens system, HM Land Registry, mortgage registration and World Bank policies on title registration.