Land is the basis of livelihood. As such, it is closely interwoven with social, economic as well as political and ecological interests, claims, and challenges. Land is a limited, immobile and non-reproducible resource that produces and reproduces social conditions. Although land in capitalist societies foremost functions as an economic asset, it remains inseparable from the various social and cultural meanings attached to it.
We currently see a revival of the land question – a perspective to understand land’s historical role in social and political-economic transformations. In cities, land is primarily treated as a capitalist private property to be exploited for profitable and speculative use – a key reason for an intensifying European housing crisis. Operating at the level of property policy, planning law or tax policy, a variety of land reforms are increasingly promoted to tackle neoliberal housing policies. The land question is also posed in the context of agrarian change in order to look at the appropriation of land in the wake of economic development in which local and international social forces heavily influence how agrarian land is being acquired, used and valued. Such transformations not only force the (dispossessed) agrarian population into new livelihoods but also introduce new property relationships and accumulation strategies to agrarian localities. Here, too, multiple approaches exist to re-organize (agrarian) land along non-capitalist, ecological and communal lines.
This seminar aims at placing urban and agrarian perspectives on land in relation to one-another to discuss the land question along the lines of a.) housing and b.) agriculture in the so-called Global North and South. In a second step, we draw from international case studies to discuss planning strategies that aim at decoupling land from capitalist logics of individual property, profitability, and speculation.