Reclaiming Common Wealth: Towards a Law and Political Economy of Land Commons

What are pathways, processes and institutional designs for the generation and governance of land commons?

Reclaiming Common Wealth: Towards a Law and Political Economy of Land Commons

What are pathways, processes and institutional designs for the generation and governance of land commons?


Institutional investments in land trigger discontents all over the world. In cities affordable housing becomes scarce and urgent ecological retrofits are put on hold; large-scale purchases of agricultural land lead to expulsions of rural populations and monocultures that harm ecologies and food sovereignty.

Critique of corporate ownership, large-scale investments in land and the assetization of infrastructures for the satisfaction of basic needs not only mobilize civil society and prompt protest. Initiatives for deprivatization and reclaiming land as common wealth also open up pathways for transformation. They point towards the social and ecological possibilities entailed in a reorganization of the ownership and administration of land. At the same time, attempts at deprivatization reveal the extent to which the lack of transparency of ownership structures and the assetization of land are products of legal design and enjoy far-reaching legal protection.

The proposed project seeks to address both, real utopias of common ownership as well as obstacles to their realization. Inquiry into pathways of transforming the current law and political economy of land shall be conducted within the theoretical frameworks established by research on commons and commoning. The project pursues three concrete objectives:

First, the project seeks to contribute to data commons concerning structures of property and ownership in land.

Second, the project critically assesses theories and concepts of property and value as well as methods of valuing land and real estate in order to make proposals for a revaluation of land as a commons.

Third, the project establishes a repository of the law and institutional design of (land) commons with a particular focus on Commons Public Partnerships.


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