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Privatizing the private in rural Paraguay: Precarious lots and the materiality of rights



In this article, I look at the apparent contradiction of Paraguayan peasants who live on privately titled homesteads but who oppose the “privatization” of their land. The changes against which they are fighting are massive upheavals in the peasant landscape and subtle legal shifts that undermine the basis for land redistribution. I argue that the problem with privatizing the private reveals an underlying tension in liberal theories of property between a conception of a right as an abstract relation between people and one in which a right is a relation between people that is mediated, and troubled, by the frailty of material things. [Paraguay, property law, land reform, peasant movement, liberalism, privatization, agrarian transition]