Questioning Landownership I: Historical approaches and housing questions

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Economic Geography Specialty Group, Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 1:45 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Denver, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: Marit Rosol
Chairs: Marit Rosol


One result of the 2008 systemic failure of the global economic and financial order is a massive run of capital into real estate and agricultural lands. This ‘land-grabbing’ or ‘land hunger’ (van der Ploeg et al. 2015; Borras and Franco 2013) brings questions of land, forms of ownership and tenure, and access prominently on the agenda. Going beyond the – important and necessary – critique of the increasing concentration of land in the hands of a few, in this session we want to question the concept of (private) landownership itself. Specifically, our objectives are to:
1) question the hegemony of private landownership, which is usually uncontested in everyday life and mostly invisible in political discussions (e.g. Blomley 2003, 2016).
2) explore other possible framings, such as, for example, the theory of access (Ribot and Peluso 2003) and related discussions of power, claim-making, benefits and control.
3) draw attention to the governance and regulation of land use, transfer and ownership (e.g. Sikor and Müller 2009).
4) investigate the transformative potential of alternative/collective/participatory forms of land-ownership, tenure and use (e.g. DeFilippis et al. 2019; Gombay 2018).
To discuss these issues, we welcome theory-driven and/or empirically grounded papers relating to ur-ban and rural experiences from around the globe. Guiding questions include, but are not limited to the following:
• What are the genealogies of present landownership structures in specific geographical loca-tions? What are the consequences of the territorialisation of property?
• What is to say about the relationship between possession and (formal) ownership of land, access to land and its regulation and governance? What are conditions and implications of different forms of governance? How can they serve as political strategy and/or capacity to act?
• What role do communities, civic organizations, the state and the market play in this?
• How can a radical democratization/social-ecological transformation of land ownership and use look like and be implemented? What historic forms of collective/participatory landownership or land use existed and how were they organized? What kind of examples that strive for such transformed land ownership exist and what can we learn from them?
• What about the scalability of collective forms of land use? Are they necessarily local or how can they be “scaled up”?

Blomley, Nicholas (2003): Unsettling the City. Urban Land and the Politics of Property. London, New York: Routledge.
— (2016): The Territory of Property. In Progress in Human Geography 40 (5), pp. 593–609.
Borras, Saturnino M.; Franco, Jennifer C. (2013): Global Land Grabbing and Political Reactions ‘From Below’. In Third World Quar-terly 34 (9), pp. 1723–1747.
DeFilippis, James; Williams, Olivia R.; Pierce, Joseph; Martin, Deborah G.; Kruger, Rich; Esfahani, Azadeh Hadizadeh (2019): On the Transformative Potential of Community Land Trusts in the United States. In Antipode 51 (3), pp. 795–817.
Gombay, Nicole (2018): Just Enough to Survive: Economic Citizenship in the Context of Indigenous Land Claims. In Anthony Ince, Sarah Marie Hall (Eds.): Sharing Economies in Times of Crisis. Practices, Politics and Possibilities. London, New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 160–174.
Ribot, Jesse C.; Peluso, Nancy Lee (2003): A Theory of Access. In Rural Sociology 68 (2), pp. 153–181.
Sikor, Thomas; Müller, Daniel (2009): The Limits of State-Led Land Reform: An Introduction. In World Development 37 (8), pp. 1307–1316.
van der Ploeg, Jan Douwe; Franco, Jennifer C.; Borras, Saturnino M. (2015): Land Concentration and Land Grabbing in Europe: A Preliminary Analysis. In Canadian Journal of Development Studies 36 (2), pp. 147–162.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Eva-Maria Swidler*, Curtis Institute of Music, The Means of Subsistence: The Historical Economics of Self-Provisioning 15 1:45 PM
Presenter Antoine Paccoud*, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER), The long-run permanence of concentrated landownership: securing control over land through its partitioning into homes 15 2:00 PM
Presenter Carolyn Gallaher*, American University, Land in the Air: Condo Governance in the Context of Gentrification 15 2:15 PM
Presenter Jessica Parish*, City Instiitute, York University, Pension Fund Gentrification: Social reproduction, fiduciary law, and the “insatiable appetite” for land. 15 2:30 PM
Discussant Marit Rosol University of Calgary 15 2:45 PM

To access contact information login