Skip to main content

Critical Perspectives on Land Registration: Creating and Shaping Land Through Registration or Registration Through Land

Venue: Online

Book your place

In 2018, the Law Commission released its extensive report on updating the Land Registration Act 2002. The same year, HM Land Registry announced its ambition to become “the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data, and aiming to achieve comprehensive registration by 2030”. Meanwhile, other states around the world have taken steps towards paperless, digital platform-based conveyancing. ‘Proptech’, the use of digital platform-based technology to find innovative ways of extracting value from real estate, is emerging as a new industry in late capitalist economies around the world. In the English and Welsh context, the proptech industry is being actively supported by HM Land Registry, even as law struggles to regulate it. Even, arguably, as the courts and others struggle to conceptualise just what land registration actually does, how and why it does this, and whether we actually want it to do what it does.

The transfer of entitlement to enclosed, privatized land is not only a complex legal task, but also one that is dependent on and productive of relations of power. For a very long time, as Alain Pottage has demonstrated, that power was located in local community memory (Pottage 1992, 1994). The seemingly banal change in legal process from proving and transferring title through paper deeds to relying on a central register involved a shift in power away from local community memory and toward a central administrative archive, and a corresponding shift in the very idea of what was being proven and transferred (ibid). This legal technology was first trialled in the colony of South Australia, and its dispossessory effects on racialised populations and on women, whose relationships with land tend to be less amenable to registration, are now being acknowledged (Hanstad 1998; Ye 2009; Mollett 2010; Bhandar 2015; Keenan 2017). As we move away from paper registries and toward digital technology, new constructions of property are being produced and with them new formations of power.  

In light of these developments, new perspectives on land registration and its social, economic and political significance are pressing and important. In this series of online panels, we discuss ideas which address the broader significance of land registration.


Felicitas Sommer, 'The privacy of property. Exploring the relationship between state data infrastructures and pastoral imaginaries in Germany' 

Flora Vern, 'The Influence of Land Registration Systems on Property Theory' 

Matteo Maciel and William Acres, 'Title and Disintegration: The New England Company and the Six Nations of the Grand River, 1871-1934'

This is the first event of this workshop series, find out more about the second workshop.

This event is supported by the Socio-legal Studies Association (SLSA).

This event is open to the public and free to attend however booking is required via this page. The event will be hosted on Collaborate, a free to access website. You will be sent a link to access the event upon registration.

Contact name: