Beyond Property – an experiential curriculum

Beyond Property Book Cover
Book Cover, Beyond Property (2019)

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.

Risographic book cover printed at Spudnik Press, Chicago. Book interior and cards printed at Mission Press, Chicago.

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.