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

part I|48 pages

The global commodification of land and competition for resources

part II|81 pages

Social mobilization and the counter-movement

chapter 5|17 pages

Forging a single proletariat

chapter 6|25 pages

Urban squatters

chapter 7|18 pages

Land and territory

Struggles for land and territorial rights in Brazil

chapter 8|19 pages

The right to land and territory

New human right and collective action frame 1

part III|82 pages

Shaping alternatives

chapter 9|17 pages

Facilitating the commons

chapter 11|17 pages

When land is inalienable

Territorial transformations and peasants’ property rights in Mexico

chapter 12|30 pages


The revival of the “commons” and the redefinition of property rights