Dr. Gabriela Debrunner’s visiting talk

Bringing ‘Property’ on the 2020s-Planner’s-Agenda: It’s not Yet Set in Stone!

Dr. Gabriela Debruner. ETH Zurich

Department of Spatial Planning, Dortmund University. 28 November 2023, 13:00

In this talk, Dr. Debrunner will argue that the question of property and landownership is the most fundamental to planning. Notions of property, property rights and duties, their allocation, and distribution are at the center of current political, economic, and socio-environmental debates throughout the world. These issues are evident not only in global urbanization and resource scarcity struggles, but also, for example, in the acute geopolitical difficulties of Russia and Eastern Europe, where conflicts over property rights, and their control over land have resulted in actions of war and suffering for millions of people.

Even though property scholars from different fields e.g., political philosophy, law, or urban economics have been aware of the importance of property to planning for centuries, during the past decade (2010–2020), the critical conceptual voices and debates around property for planning professions have increasingly lost track. Therefore, the goal of this talk is not to reflect on the concept of property as an intellectual or cognitive status, but rather to systematically investigate the evolution of property as a legal concept, and how it has chronologically been amended over time by different actors and interest groups involved. Results majorly contribute to the “property-oriented-turn” (Jacobs & Paulsen, 2009) in land use policy calling for mainstream urban planning to reopen the controversial land question and its diverse political-economic implications: these issues are evident not only in natural resource scarcity struggles (e.g., of land, energy, climate adaptation), but also to analyze and to understand the diverse socio-economic and political power imbalances attached to it.