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Title: Property Rights and Social Uses of Land in Portuguese India: The Province of the North, 1534-1739
Authors: Miranda, Susana Münch
Editors: Serrão, José Vicente
Direito, Bárbara
Rodrigues, Eugénia
Miranda, Susana Münch
Keywords: Portuguese Asia
land tenure
prazos system
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: CEHC-IUL
Citation: Miranda, Susana Münch, Property Rights and Social Uses of Land in Portuguese India: The Province of the North, 1534-1739. In Property Rights, Land and Territory in the European Overseas Empires, ed. J. Vicente Serrão, E. Rodrigues, B. Direito and S. Münch Miranda. Lisbon: CEHC-IUL, pp. 169-180.
Abstract: This paper examines the regulation of land rights in Bassein and Daman (India) during the two hundred years these territories were under Portuguese rule. Based on primary and secondary sources, I argue that local elites played a significant role in reshaping the legal and institutional framework that became known as the prazos system, a topic yet insufficiently explored by the literature. The paper starts by outlining the pre-existent land tenure system, which was largely based on the iqtāʿ, a wide-spread institution in the Islamic world. It then proceeds to examine how European and Portuguese legal institutions, namely the emphyteusis and the long-established practice of granting crown’s assets, were recreated in order to retain features of the iqtā, thus leading to the emergence of a hybrid legal system. The paper then focuses on the adaptations this legal framework underwent as a result of its ‘social appropriation’ by colonial elites and the responses of the colonial authorities. I conclude that the prazos system allowed accommodating both the goals of the Portuguese monarchy and of the colonial elites. While the Crown used the prazos to reward services, ensure territorial organization, military defence, and tax mediation, the local elites (both Portuguese and Asian) reshaped its institutional regulations to guarantee their social reproduction.
Type: bookPart
Appears in Collections:CIDEHUS - Publicações - Capítulos de Livros

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