Geographies of Property I: Democracy

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Urban Geography Specialty Group, Socialist and Critical Geography Specialty Group, Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Calvert Room, Omni, East
Organizers: Nick Lombardo, Trevor Wideman, Stephen Przybylinski
Chairs: Trevor Wideman


Much research on property has addressed the socio-economic effects of the "ownership model" of private property (Blomley 2004), critiquing how privatized property in the industrial mode of capitalist production came to be predominantly thought of as "an absolute right to saleable things" (Macpherson 1978). This notion of "property-as-commodity" arguably lies at the heart of this critical urban scholarship, as struggles over gentrification and displacement, houselessness, and rights to the city remain central to analyses of neoliberal capitalism.

Complementary to these critiques of property-as-commodity are the socio-political implications of property. That is, property understood not only as a commodifiable "thing," but as a relationship among people which actively shapes political subjectivities (Nedelsky 1993, Singer 2000, Blomley 2003). Relational property scholars have emphasized how publics are affected by property relations (Staeheli and Mitchell 2008), specifically addressing those affected beyond that of individual property rights-holders, thus identifying how regimes of property and property rights implicate the public more broadly.

This session seeks to advance insights on property relations within democracies broadly. Historically, liberal democracies necessitated property requirements for individuals to realize their political citizenship. Arguably, property remains a regulatory process for liberal-democratic life today. As Roy (2003) argues, the liberal model of property ownership regulates what constitutes model citizenship itself. This session, therefore, addresses how it is that property relations affect, mediate, regulate and order social and political life. While much of this work has focused on liberal democratic states. As such, relational approaches of scholars analyzing property outside of democratic states are most welcome.

Suggested themes for papers are below, but do not exhaust all applicable topics:

How is property used as a political instrument?

How do property rights mediate citizenship realization?

In what ways does property model proper liberal citizenship?

In what ways is property essentialized in democratic practice and insitutions?

What roles do property, space, play in constructing "publics?"

What can relational approaches to property offer critical geographic scholarship?


Blomley, N. 2004. Unsettling the city: Urban land and the politics of property. New York: Routledge.

---. 2003. Law, property, and the spaces of violence: the frontier, the survey, and the grid. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 93(1): 121-141.

MacPherson, C.B. 1978. Property: Mainstream and critical positions. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Nedelsky, J. 1993. Reconceiving rights as relationships. Review of Constitutional Studies 1(1): 1-27.

Roy, A. 2003. Paradigms of propertied citizenship: Transnational techniques of analysis. Urban Affairs Review 38(4): 463-491.

Singer, J. 2000. Property and social relations: From title to entitlement. In Geisler, C. and G. Daneker (Eds.) Property and values: Alternatives to public and private ownership (pp. 3-20). Washington D.C.: Island Press.

Staeheli, L., and D. Mitchell. 2008. The people's property: Power, politics, and the public. New York: Routledge.


Blomley, N., 2017. Land Use, planning, and the "difficult character of property." Plan. Theory Pract. 18, 351–364.

Fawaz, M., 2016. Planning and the making of a propertied landscape. Plan. Theory Pract. 9357, 1–20.

Porter, L., 2014. Possessory politics and the conceit of procedure: Exposing the cost of rights under conditions of dispossession. Plan. Theory 13, 387–406.

Rutland, T., 2018. Displacing Blackness: Planning, Power, and Race in Twentieth-Century Halifax. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.

Valverde, M., 2005. Taking "land use" seriously: toward an ontology of municipal law. Law Text Cult. 9, 34–59.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Stephen Przybylinski*, Syracuse University, Properties of liberal-democratic citizenship: Constructing the houseless as secondary citizens 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Christine Jocoy*, California State University - Long Beach, Using public property to address homelessness: Discourses of waste-avoidance and serving the public good in US federal homeless assistance policy 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Chantal Gailloux*, Concordia University, East Harlem Community Gardens and the Conflicting Politics of the Commons 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Paul Stacey*, Roskilde University, ‘You can have it for God’ – Land exchanges for Mosque building in Accra 20 9:00 AM
Presenter Alexander Pustelnyk*, Syracuse University, Charting the 'Un-Owned:' Mapping Practices in Lima, Peru 20 9:20 AM

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