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.

chapter 1|19 pages

Property rights from below

An introduction to the debate
ByOlivier De Schutter, Balakrishnan Rajagopal

part Part I|48 pages

The global commodification of land and competition for resources

chapter 2|5 pages

When primitive accumulation inhabits advanced systems

BySaskia Sassen

chapter 3|23 pages

Land grab governance and the crisis of market rule

ByPhilip McMichael

chapter 4|18 pages

From transgression to normative innovation

Land conflict resolution in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1
ByAnsoms An, Emery Mushagalusa Mudinga, Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka, Giuseppe Davide Cioffo, Klara Claessens

part Part II|81 pages

Social mobilization and the counter-movement

chapter 5|17 pages

Forging a single proletariat

ByJ. Phillip Thompson

chapter 6|25 pages

Urban squatters

BySonia Katyal, Eduardo M. Peñalver

chapter 7|18 pages

Land and territory

Struggles for land and territorial rights in Brazil
BySérgio Sauer, Luís Felipe Perdigão de Castro

chapter 8|19 pages

The right to land and territory

New human right and collective action frame 1
ByPriscilla Claeys

part Part III|82 pages

Shaping alternatives

chapter 9|17 pages

Facilitating the commons

ByHanoch Dagan, Tsilly Dagan

chapter 10|16 pages

Urban commons, property, and the right to the city

BySheila R. Foster

chapter 11|17 pages

When land is inalienable

Territorial transformations and peasants’ property rights in Mexico
ByAntonio Azuela

chapter 12|30 pages


The revival of the “commons” and the redefinition of property rights
ByOlivier De Schutter, Balakrishnan Rajagopal