Prof. Dr. Dieter Gosewinkel

Associated Fellow at the Max Weber Kolleg and the SFB "Strukturwandel des Eigentums" (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies)

Prof. Dr. Dieter Gosewinkel

Research Project

Does Property Have a Nationality?

Property as a Resource of Domination and its State Control (Project Outline)

Property is a core right of citizenship. But does property also have a nationality - like citizenship? The question seems obsolete, since property is considered freely available across borders in the globalised world. But it is not, because since the revolutionary legal declarations of the 18th century, property has historically never been only an individually freely available good. It has always been an instrument of social and political power, representing a resource of power and thus competing with state power. States, especially nation states, therefore did not allow the free, transnational disposal of property. The transnational availability of property is therefore the source of conflicts over domination. This is why property - which, according to the will of its owners, is supposed to be 'free' - is often attributed a 'nationality' where it embodies a political, economic and cultural resource of power. The project asks the question of how, when and with what objective the supposedly universally 'free' property was or is allocated and controlled by the state? What justifications are put forward for the 'nationalisation' of certain types of property, while other types of property remain freely available?

The project, arguing historically, aims at a contemporary problem: the distribution of a universal right, 'free property', under the conditions of a (nation)state structured world order. Historical case studies are planned, starting with the revolutionary declarations of property as a universal human right up to current struggles over the allocation of intellectual property in the age of globalisation.