On December 15, 2016, the project ‘Properties in Transformation: Towards an Interdisciplinary Research Agenda in Contemporary Brazil‘ was launched as a partnership between representatives of the the University of Warwick (Law School and Business School), the University of São Paulo Law School (USP), the Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (CEBRAP) and the Universidade São Judas of São Paulo (Law School).
The inaugural event was held at the CEBRAP and gathered twenty-three participants, among academics, representatives of local city administrations and civil society organisations, lawyers and independent researchers. It was organized as a horizontal and constructive brainstorm aimed to highlighting specific areas and concrete examples that challenge traditional notions of property as a monolith or as a bundle of rights.
The meeting was the first step of a two-years collaboration developed with the support of the Santander Brazilian Partnership Fund and the ESRC IAA Global Challenges Research Fund, with the long term goal to adopt Brazil as a laboratory of analysis and investigation about the constantly changing nature of property in light of the complexity of global and
local interactions between capital, natural resources, people, land, labor, etc. In particular, the intention is to analyze how and why forms, functions and practices of property are mutating, how they are perceived and lived, and to gather case studies capable of shading light on the role and impact of states, communities, the transnational economic framework and the daily practices of conviviality, competition and struggle. In light of the organizers and of the participants, Brazil should thus represent only the first moment of a network of intellectual and practical engagements that should involve multiple Latin American realities and also build bridges with other actors and experiences both in the Global South and the Global North.
After two plenary sessions and three smaller workshops, the participants to the event were capable of mapping a multiplicity of situations, people and dynamics that reveal how the notions, conditions, lives and institutions of property in Brazil are constantly evolving, undergoing a metamorphosis that is not predefined and that is open to appropriation, power, conflict, resistance and diverse outcomes. Drivers of transformation – i.e. the political economy of property – and spaces of tension were discussed, along with the notion that it will be important to investigate the way in which ideas of property and property institutions emerge, dialog, circulate, are received and mutate.
More broadly, there was overall consensus on the necessity to address the issue of transformations not only from the point of view of defined institutions and usual methods but also of their practices, actors and ‘life on the ground’. The importance of focusing on the way in which property is normally taught and perceived, both within law schools and outside of the academic world, was also addressed as a stepping stone in the attempt to sparkle more debate and engage with more conservative perceptions.
Along the various aspects that were considered, there was significant consensus around the importance of critically engaging with contemporary problems and solutions arising with the transformations of the urban space (financialization of land and lives, occupations, right to the city, right to housing and the social function of property), the increase connection between transnational capitalism and the Brazilian context (foreign direct investments, limits to foreign ownership of land, connections with global value chains, the role of corporate social responsibility in addressing land struggles), the encounter between institutions that are property of native communities and those of the ‘modern’ markets (commons, exclusion, land as resource or as cultural element, etc), the surge in the securitization of spaces and of the chains of production (gates, control of public and private areas and the link between technology and exclusion) and, last but not least, the need for gender and the ecological implications of these transformations, i.e. their ability to favor the reproduction of the planet and of social relationships rather than their exhaustion.
At the end of the day, participants agreed on a agenda for 2017 organized around four main points: a) the consolidation and expansion of the existing network in order to increase the geographical and disciplinary diversity of the group; b) the identification and selection of some emblematic case studies and the realization of collectively drafted academic papers; c) the presentation of the papers in a two-days conference to be held at CEBRAP and USP in December 2017; d) the publication of a collection of all or some of the papers in an edited volume that aims to positioning itself as a term of reference for innovative approaches to properties in Brazil and a starting point for further national and international collaborations.
Members of the Network on December 23, 2016
|Tomaso Ferrando||Warwick Law School (UK)|
|Diogo R. Coutinho||USP Faculty of Law|
|Iage Miola||CEBRAP – Sao Judas|
|Flavio Marques Prol||CEBRAP/USP|
|Juliane Reinecke||Warwick Business School (UK)|
|Francisco Cruz||Internet Lab|
|Mariana Valente||Internet Lab|
|Fábio de Sá e Silva||IPEA|
|Letícia Osório||Ford Foundation|
|Jorge Esquirol||Florida International University (USA)|
|Alessandra Quarta||Universita’ di Torino (Italy)|
|Beatriz Kira||Internet Lab|
|Lina Cespedes||Universidad de Rosario (Colombia)|
|Hélio Wicher Neto||Polis|
|Nicolas Perrone||Dhuram University (UK)|
|George Meszaros||Warwick Law School (UK)|