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Subversive Property: Reshaping Malleable Spaces of Belonging

Keenan, Sarah (2010) 'Subversive Property: Reshaping Malleable Spaces of Belonging.' Social and Legal Studies, 19 (4). pp. 423-439.

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Abstract

Despite a wide field of scholarship critiquing the idea and workings of property, most understandings still centre around the propertied subject. This paper spatializes property in order to shift the focus away from the propertied subject and onto the broader networks of relations that interact to form property. It draws on critical geography, phenomenology and empirical socio-legal work to argue that property can be understood as a relationship of belonging that is held up by the surrounding space – a relationship that is not fixed or essential but temporally and spatially contingent. Building on Davina Cooper’s analysis of ‘property practices’, I argue that when analysed spatially, the two types of belonging she discusses – belonging between a subject and an object and between a part and a whole – become indistinguishable. As such, characteristics generally associated with identity politics can be understood as property in the same way that owning a house can - in terms of belonging in space. This spatialized understanding shows the breadth of property’s political potential. Although property tends to be (re)productive of the status quo, it can also be subversive. Property can unsettle spaces too.

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > School of Law
ISSN: 09646639
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1177/0964663910372175
Depositing User: Sarah Keenan
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2012 15:13
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/14277

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