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News & Press: Calls for Papers

Unraveling Urban Property Norms, Practices, & Imaginaries

Wednesday, October 12, 2016  
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AAG 2017 Boston: Call for Papers

Olivia R. Williams (Florida State University)
Kenton Card (University of California, Los Angeles)
Joseph Pierce (Florida State University)

Critical Planning Journal

Property, as it is typically conceptualized, mobilized, and practiced in neoliberal capitalism, has led to significant wealth disparities, gentrification, displacement, and banishment. Responding to these challenges, an increasing surge of scholars, professionals, and activists are engaging in research and practices that think and work beyond the property norms of neoliberal and finance capitalism. Though property rights can appear absolute, they remain contingent, partial, and malleable, with informal agreements often shaping the everyday uses of space (Blomley, 2004; Pierce, 2010). Sometimes informality is a source of intentionally alternative practices, such as squatting, tiny home siting, and urban agriculture. More formal, legal strategies for property ownership are also utilized to transition spaces of protest and community movements into permanent communities (Finchett-Maddock, 2015), and to secure land and housing for disadvantaged populations. Shared property arrangements (eg. community land trusts, housing cooperatives, mutual housing associations) have the potential to facilitate democratic decisionmaking around common property, nurturing the emergence of what some scholars consider urban commons (Borch and Kornberger, 2015; Gidwani and Baviskar, 2011). Some political jurisdictions also have instituted property regulations preventing and mitigating displacement, including rent caps, relocation fees, one-to-one replacement of affordable units, or even anti-speculation restrictions on purchases (Haila, 2015).

This session seeks to produce a robust conversation about the the strategies and theories people are using to trouble property—especially in relation to land and housing—to create subversive imaginaries in urban contexts.

We encourage presentations in or around the following topics:

  • Organizations and institutions (eg. CLTs, LECs)
  • Activist strategies, tactics, and networks (eg. The Right to the City Alliance)
  • Policy and legal frameworks (eg. anti-displacement and anti-speculation legislation)
  • Informal land use agreements (eg. squatting, tiny homes, urban agriculture)
  • Conceptualizations of property and the urban commons
  • Property imaginaries and practices drawn from and/or comparing sites in the North and South
  • Theoretical developments seeking to unravel the concept of property

Please send proposed presentation titles, abstracts (250 words or less), and PINs to Olivia Williams ( by October 24th, 2016. We are also open to unconventional or multi-media, non-paper presentations: e.g. to show video footage or host a workshop (abstract still applies). The organizers anticipate gathering content for a publication to follow if there is interest among the participants.

Blomley, Nicholas. “The Boundaries of Property: Lessons from Beatrix Potter.” The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe Canadien 48, 2 (2004): 91–100.

Borch, Christian, and Martin Kornberger, eds. Urban commons: rethinking the city. Routledge, 2015.

Finchett-Maddock, Lucy. Protest, Property and the Commons: Performances of Law and Resistance. Routledge, 2016.

Gidwani, Vinay, and Amita Baviskar. "Urban commons." Economic and Political Weekly 46, 50 (2011): 42-43.

Haila, Anne. Urban land rent: Singapore as a property state. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.

Pierce, Joseph. “Reinvigorating the Concept of Land Tenure for American Urban Geography.” Geography Compass 4, 12 (December 2010): 1747–57. doi:10.1111/j.1749-8198.2010.00402.x.


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