Cities are quintessentially human and collective products. All urban space is the product of social cooperation. Therefore not just the “public” space but the metropolis as a whole must be considered as a commons. This assumption is not neutral from a legal point of view. It raises the question of whether private property of urban land is compatible with the conception of urban space as commons. The answer depends on how much we can push on the disintegration of property to expand the perspective of collective entitlements on urban resources against the commodification and new enclosures of urban space. Drawing on a legal realist approach to property, it is possible to dissolve the unitary conception of ownership into a bundle of rights. This article is a first attempt to enfranchise urban property as a legal form from its fate of being a mere boundary between the haves and the have-nots and revisit its role in the construction of social relations of production within the metropolis.
The Law of the Urban Common(s)
Maria Rosario Marella is a feminist activist and a professor of private law, director of the Law Clinic on Health, Environment, and Territory and director of the PhD Program in Legal Sciences at the University of Perugia. She is editor-in-chief of the Rivista Critica del Diritto Privato and a critical legal studies scholar. In 2012 she edited a book on common goods and their legal regulation (Oltre il pubblico e il privato. Per un diritto dei beni comuni; Beyond Public and Private: For a Law of the Commons), which has become a landmark for the Italian debate in this field.
Maria Rosaria Marella; The Law of the Urban Common(s). South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2019; 118 (4): 877–893. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-7825672
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