Communal Property group

Legal Strategies for the Development and Protection of Communal Property

British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme on ‘Diversifying Ownership of Land?: Communal Property in the UK and China’, 2014-2017

This event took place on 23-24 May 2016 at The Leopold Hotel, Sheffield

Ting XuCommunal property is an important mechanism for allocating natural resources and regulating their use – whether for economic exploitation, recreational use or the promotion of biodiversity and nature conservation. The form which communal property regimes take, however, and their relationship to private property structures, varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and is poorly understood. Nevertheless, the importance of communal property, transcending the public/private divide in property rights, is increasingly apparent globally. Contributions to this workshop focus on legal strategies for the development and protection of communal property and how these strategies ‘map’ over different jurisdictions (England and Wales, South Africa, Cameroon, the Netherlands, and China) and jurisprudential approaches. They look at property beyond the traditional, individualist, and exclusive ownership model, engaging with communal property ‘practices’ in different jurisdictions to explore the theoretical grounding of communal property, not only linking theory with practice but also linking the local with the global.

The workshop will explore interconnected key issues in the study of communal property and will examine, but without being limited to, the following topic areas from both the empirical and theoretical perspectives:

(a) conceptual clarification: what kinds of land rights and claims can be usefully categorised as communal property within different jurisdictions and how to draw the distinction between different concepts such as ‘commons’, ‘common-pool resources’, ‘public good’, etc.;

(b) the boundaries of communal property: for example, its relationship with private property and public property, and how these forms of property may co-exist; its spatial and temporal dimensions;

(c) the role of communal property in resource management and community development;

(d) legal recognition and protection that should be afforded to communal property.

This workshop is funded by the British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme 2014-17 on 'Diversifying Ownership of Land?'. The workshop may be of interest to scholars working in the fields of property law, environmental law, comparative law, governance and development, sociology, and anthropology. It may also interest practitioners experienced in practices, projects and experiments involving the development of communal property such as co-operatives and co-housing projects.


We welcomed 20 speakers and discussants for this one and a half day workshop.

Download the programme here

The Leopold HotelVenue

The workshop will be held at The Leopold Hotel in Sheffield city centre

Location and directions