1st Edition

Property Rights from Below Commodification of Land and the Counter-Movement

Edited By Olivier De Schutter, Balakrishnan Rajagopal Copyright 2020
    256 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    256 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Recent years have seen a globalization of property rights as the Western conception of property over land has extended across the world. As formerly community-owned land and natural resources are privatized and titling schemes proliferate, Property Rights from Below questions the trend toward treating land as a commodity and explores alternatives to the Western model.

    As we enter an era of resource scarcity and as competition for land and associated natural resources increases, purchasing power cannot become the sole criterion for land allocation; and the law of supply and demand in increasingly financialized markets cannot become the sole metric through which the value of land is determined. Using a range of examples from around the world, Property Rights from Below demonstrates that alternatives to this model often emerge from social innovations supported by local communities and that there is an urgent need for a broader political imagination when it comes to land governance.

    This innovative cross-disciplinary perspective on the pressing problems surrounding global property rights will be of interest to academics, students and professionals with an interest in property law, development economics and land governance.

    1. Property Rights From Below: An Introduction to the Debate

    Olivier De Schutter and Balakrishnan Rajagopal

    Part I: The Global Commodification of Land and Competition for Resources

    2. When Primitive Accumulation Inhabits Advanced Systems

    Saskia Sassen

    3. Land Grab Governance and the Crisis of Market Rule

    Philip McMichael

    4. From transgression to normative innovation: Land conflict resolution in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
    An Ansoms, with Emery Mudinga, Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka, Giuseppe Davide Cioffo and Klara Claessens

    Part II: Social Mobilization and the Counter-Movement

    5. Forging a Single Proletariat
    J. Phillip Thompson

    6. Urban Squatters

    Sonia Katyal and Eduardo Peñalver

    7. Land and territory: struggles for land and territorial rights in Brazil

    Sergio Sauer and Luís Felipe Perdigão de Castro

    8. The Right to Land and Territory: New Human Right and Collective Action Frame

    Priscilla Claeys

    Part III: Shaping Alternatives: from Commodification to Rebuilding the Commons

    9. Facilitating the Commons Inside Out

    Hanoch Dagan and Tsilly Dagan

    10. Urban Commons, Property, and the Right to the City

    Sheila R. Foster

    11. When Land is Inalienable. Territorial transformations and peasants’ property rights in Mexico

    Antonio Azuela

    12. Conclusion: The Revival of the "Commons" and the Redeifinition of Property Rights

    Olivier De Schutter and Balakrishnan Rajagopal


    Olivier De Schutter is Professor at the University of Louvain (UCL), Belgium, and at SciencesPo (Paris). He is also a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. He was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food between 2008 and 2014 and has been a visiting professor at Columbia University and at Berkeley University, USA.

    Balakrishnan Rajagopal is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, where he is the head of the International Development Group at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the founding director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice and the Displacement Research and Action Network. He is an active member and one of the founders of the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) network of scholars.