It is no accident that the development of modern European property theories also coincide with colonization and chattel slavery; indeed, they functioned both to justify and to motivate these practices, further driving geoplanetary transformations. These ideas undergird the everyday, Gramscian “common sense” of property: exclusive ownership by a self-possessive individual, legitimated by acts of “improvement” in terms legible to capital. This same ideology animates both the transformation of working-class apartments into luxury condos and right-wing opposition to the regulations that might mitigate climate catastrophe. In many ways, surviving the Anthropocene demands coming to grips with property, and fast.
Beyond Property is a suite of tools guiding inquiry into the proposition that property is an Anthropocene technology. The collection includes a book of readings, a suite of cards for embodied exploration, and a small sculptural object: a section of barbed wire removed from an American fenceline decoupaged or “bandaged” with text from the writings from Gerrard Winstanley, the 17th century English activist-philosopher. Rooted in Quakerism, Winstanley’s True Leveller’s movement enacted a powerful critique of critique of the morality of private property at the moment of its formalization through enclosure.
Download book PDF – 37 MB
Download cards PDF – 13 MB
Sarah Kanouse, Beyond Property, 2019-201. Project began as part of Field Guides to the Anthropocene Drift, published by Field Station 2 with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Goethe Institute, Chicago. Continued as Over the Levee, Under the Plow: An Experiential Curriculum, co-coordinated with Ryan Griffis.