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Disobedient Objects: material readings of enclosure protest in sixteenth-century

McDonagh, Briony


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Professor Briony McDonagh
Interim Director of the Energy and Environment Institute & Professor of Environmental Humanities



Responding to calls for scholars to address ‘material worlds’ in our analyses of protests past, the paper examines the more-than-human historical geographies of enclosure and enclosure protest in sixteenth-century England. It argues that negotiating enclosure – in the sense of both promoting and resisting private property rights – was dependent on particular assemblages of people, animals and things and their convergence within specific spaces and temporalities. Particular attention is paid to mundane and everyday objects entangled in enclosure protest and the ways these assemblages might transform objects’ meanings, rendering them threatening or disobedient. Moreover, repurposing these things offered opportunities to re-make space, concretising or resisting particular claims to access or possession at the local level. It contributed too to the ongoing debate out of which new concepts of property eventually emerged, so that interrogating the materialities of enclosure protest offers vital space in which to rethink the makings of our modern world.


McDonagh, B. (in press). Disobedient Objects: material readings of enclosure protest in sixteenth-century. Journal of Medieval History,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 26, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 31, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 27, 2020
Print ISSN 0304-4181
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords enclosure; landscape; protest; more-than-human; things
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