Contested Concepts of Property in Past & Present

Event, 4-5 October 2022 (Jena, Germany)


Annual Conference of the Collaborative Research Centre Structural Change of Property

Date: October 4/5, 2022

Venue: Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Social conflicts over property arise against the background of historically contested concepts of property. In social and political conflicts about who owns whom or what, there is always a social struggle about what counts as property and what does not. Concepts of property are contested in at least three ways. First, property rights take on historically specific forms of the private, the social, and the public. Second, these rights are shaped by different goods; property is held in infrastructures, energy, labor, knowledge, land, data, and nature. Third, property rights are embedded in a social context of appropriation, propriation, and expropriation. Goods are taken into possession, placed under a property regime, or transferred to new owners both with and without the consent of the old ones.

At the international and interdisciplinary conference of the SFB Structural Transformation of Property collaborative research centre, these contested concepts of property will be discussed using case studies that are socially and politically relevant for the present. These case studies include questions about the history of colonial appropriation as well as the restitution of colonial plundered art. In addition, the conventional practice of appropriating natural goods will be questioned in terms of climate policy. A history of expropriation shows that social developments have always been enabled by policies of dispossession. Inheritance societies, with their growing inequalities, raise questions about the temporal limits of property. Digital and financialized capitalism create new kinds of property structures that need to be understood and criticized, and the debate over housing and urban space makes the testing of alternative forms of property urgent. The conference will conclude with a public panel discussion on the goals, strategies, and actors of the campaign for the socialization of property.

Tuesday, October 4

12:00                    Welcome by the SFB-Speaker Hartmut Rosa and
                             The Presidium of the Friedrich-Schiller-University
                             Introduction by Tilo Wesche

12:30 – 14:00

    Keynote 1         Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago)
                             Comment by Hartmut Rosa
                             Chair: Helen Gibson


14:00 – 14:30       Break

14:30 – 16:00

    Panel 1            History of Expropriation
                             Nicholas Mulder (Cornell University)
                             Eckart Conze (Marburg University)
                             Comment by Florian Peters
                             Chair: Anna Möllers


   Panel 2             Expropriation and Civil Disobedience
                             Andreas Malm (Lund University) (online)
                             Robin Celikates (Free University of Berlin)
                             Comment by Petra Gümplová
                             Chair: Steffen Liebig


16:00 – 16:30       Break

16:30 – 18:00

    Panel 3            Colonial Appropriation
                             Brenna Bhandar (University of British Columbia) (online)
                             Allan Greer (McGill University)
                             Comment by Sophie Jossi-Silverstein
                             Chair:  Merle Heusmann

    Panel 4            Appropriation and Restitution
                             Sophie Schönberger (University of Düsseldorf)
                             Flower Manase (National Museum of Tanzania)
                             Comment by Jürgen Martschukat
                             Chair: Dirk Schuck

18:00 – 18:30       Break

18:30 – 20:00

    Keynote 2        Jennifer Morgan (New York University) (online)
                             Comment by Helen Gibson
                             Chair: Moana Packo


Wednesday, October 5

09:30 – 11:00

    Keynote 3        Stephan Lessenich (Goethe University Frankfurt)
                             Comment by Tilman Reitz
                             Chair: Verena Wolf

11:00 – 11:30        Break

11:30 – 13:00 

    Panel 5            Inheritance
                             Stefan Gosepath (Free University of Berlin)
                             Thomas Gutmann (University of Münster)
                             Comment by Lydia von der Weth
                             Chair: Karlotta Böthig

    Panel 6            Digital and Financial Capitalism
                             Philipp Staab (Humboldt University of Berlin)
                             Aaron Sahr (Hamburg Institute for Social Research)
                             Comment by Marlen van den Ecker and Tobias Stadler
                             Chair: Sebastian Sevignani

13:00 – 14:00       Lunch

14:00 – 15:30   

    Dialogue          Critique of Property
                             Christoph Menke (Goethe University Frankfurt)
                             Katharina Pistor (Columbia University) (online)
                             Chair: Niklas Angebauer

15:30 – 16:00       Break

16:00 – 17:30

   Panel 7             Housing: Comparative Studies
                             Kerstin Brückweh (Berliner Hochschule für Technik)
                             Marie-Pierre Lefeuvre (University of Tours)
                             Comment by Daniel Kunze
                             Chair: Agnieszka Althaber

    Panel 8            Who Owns the City?
                             Rahel Jaeggi (Humboldt University of Berlin)
                             Regina Kreide (Gießen University)
                             Comment by Markus Kip
                             Chair: Lukas Lachenicht


17:30 – 18:00       Break

18:00 – 20:00      Making Things Public: Vergesellschaftung, Communalisierung, öffentliche Infrastrukturen
                             Reinhard Guthke (Verein Bürgerenergie Thüringen)
                             Joanna Kusiak (DW&Co Enteignen/King’s College, Cambridge)
                             Cara Röhner (Hochschule RheinMain)
                             Florian Schmidt (Bezirksstadtrat in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg/ Berlin)
                             Barbara Schönig (Staatssekretärin im Thüringer Ministerium für Infrastruktur und Landwirtschaft,
                                                            Professorin für Stadtplanung, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)
                             Raul Zelik (Sozialwissenschaftler und Schriftsteller, Berlin)

                             Moderation: Silke van Dyk, Ute Tellmann


If you want to register for the event, please send an email to the following address until September 19: