'Constituting modernity' originated from a critique of a liberal understanding of property relation as one between a person and a 'thing'. States are perceived to be fundamental obstacles on the way to an individual's appropriation of the 'thing'. State intervention is often considered to be a reason for a presumed absence of private property in non-European contexts. The research presented here contests these assumptions from different perspectives, both in a European and non-European context. As multi-disciplinary as it is wide-ranging, the work ranges from the practices of the 19th century Ottoman administrative government in the constitution of private property rights to the practice of cadastral mapping in British India. These essays, carefully prepared in full collaboration as part of a unified research program, cover Ottoman and British land laws, property rights in the British colonies, and the notion of property as a contested domain and a site of power relations in 19th century China. No such interdisciplinary study of private property exists. 'Constituting modernity' will not only set the tone of much research to come, but reworks the fundamental theory behind the scholarship to date.