Open Seminar: Making Property Rights, John Locke and International Law

The Transformations of Property Project Presents:

The Pasts and Futures of Property Seminar Series #3

Dr Mónica García-Salmones

University of Helsinki|Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights

  • Date: 13 March 2020
  • Time: 10:15 – 12:00
  • Venue: Styrelserummet at Faculty of Law | Lund University
  • This event is organised in collaboration with Transnational Law and Politics Research Group

John Locke’s (1632-1704) theory of property rights has had a profound impact in understandings of property worldwide. In the Two Treatises of Government, the great late-seventeenth century English philosopher gave a twofold explanation of what property rights are: dividing them into natural and consensual. This division loosely corresponded with the international status of states: those that have not entered into leagues and agreements and those states that had done so, having consented ‘to the use of money’. Just before the anonymous publication of his book on political theory, the country saw some radical changes in the political and economic system, such as the Glorious Revolution (1688) and the rise of the London Stock Market with the birth of significant companies such as the Bank of England and the new East India Company. In this seminar I contextualize Locke’s legal and economic theory on property rights in this momentous period of British history and try to interpret his ambivalent commitment to nature and capital.

Bio: Mónica García-Salmones is a Senior Researcher at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, with a project funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation (2018-2020). She is also Adjunct Professor of International Law (Docent) at the University of Helsinki where she teaches  a seminar on ’History, Theory and Philosophy of International Law’. In the Winter of 2019 she was Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow at the LPIL, University of Melbourne. During 2017/18 she was a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law. She holds an LLD in International Law (University of Helsinki) and an LLM in Company Law (Gesellschaftsrecht) (University of Augsburg), and has recently participated in the first Executive Arbitration and Investment Law Course at the Lauterpacht Center of International Law. During her post-doc on the ‘Intellectual History of International Law: Between Religion and Empire’ in Helsinki, she studied the theological foundations of secularist international law, a project she is currently finalizing. Her monograph, The Project of Positivism in International Law (Oxford University Press, 2013), was awarded the European Society of International Law Book Prize in 2015.

Open Seminar: Vice and International Law in the Early 20th Century

Law & the Social Seminar Series

Jackson Oldfield

PhD Researcher | University of Amsterdam | Faculty of Law |Amsterdam Centre for International Law

  • Date: 27 February 2020
  • Time: 10:15 – 12:00
  • Venue: Styrelserummet at Faculty of Law | Lund University
  • Discussant : Dr. Markus Gunneflo
  • NB: If you wish to attend the seminar please send an email to amin.parsa [at] in order to receive the draft article for this seminar

This event is organised in collaboration with Transnational Law and Politics Research Group

In this seminar Jackson Oldfield will provide a history of the criminalisation of smuggling by critically examining the legacies of pre-WWI treaties combating vice and immorality; treaties on traffics in “white slavery”, obscene materials and opium and other narcotics. Oldfield will explore the histories of these treaties in discussions around race, class and social purity and during the seminar reflect on how this history still has relevance today.

Jackson Oldfield joined the Amsterdam Centre for International Law (ACIL) in 2017, as part of the Law and Justice Across Borders Research Priority Area. His PhD research looks at the development of people smuggling as a crime in international law, its relationship to earlier prohibitions on the smuggling of goods and the impact this has on the way people smuggling is approached in law.
Jackson is a graduate of Lund University, Sweden and Cardiff University, U.K., where he undertook a LLM in International Human Rights Law and International Labour Rights and a LLB in Law respectively. After obtaining his LLM, Jackson worked in a range of research and research coordination positions in human rights and anti-corruption civil society organisations, looking at topics from corruption to business and human rights and democracy in Europe.

This is an open event /// No registration is required

Open Seminar: What is a legal thing? Animals, Slaves and corporations

The Transformations of Property Project Presents:

The Pasts and Futures of Property Seminar Series #2

Dr. Visa Kurki

University of Helsinki | Faculty of Law

  • Date: 25 February 2020
  • Time: 13:15–15:00
  • Venue: Styrelserummet at Faculty of Law | Lund University
  • Organizer: Dr. Leila Brännström
  • This event is organised in collaboration with Transnational Law and Politics Research Group

Lawyers and legal scholars subscribe often to the notion that the universe can be divided into two: persons and things. Furthermore, there are numerous assumptions pertaining to this bifurcation that are often not spelled out. In addition, one’s chosen definition of “thing” is often simply taken to be the correct one. The talk scrutinizes these assumptions and definitions.

First, I offer a brief history of the person–thing bifurcation. Second, I examine three possible definitions of “legal thing”: things as nonpersons, things as rights and duties, and things as property. I reject the first two definitions as not being very interesting or serving any heuristic function. Conversely, understanding legal things as property is meaningful, useful, and helps to understand what it means to say that, say, animals are legally things.Finally, I discuss the implications of defining things as property. For instance, not everything needs to be either a person or a thing: the historical institution of outlawry involved treating individuals neither as legal persons nor as legal things. One must conclude that the person–thing bifurcation is less fundamental than is often assumed, and legal scholars should not feel the need to classify everything as either a person or a thing.

Dr Visa Kurki is a Finnish legal scholar and philosopher, currently an Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Fellow at the Law Faculty of the University of Helsinki.
He completed his PhD in 2017 at the Law Faculty of the University of Cambridge. His doctoral dissertation on legal personhood was awarded the Yorke Prize and the Salje Medal and was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. In addition to legal personhood, Dr Kurki’s research interests include animal law, rights theory and social ontology.

This is an open event /// No registration is required

Open Seminar: Power and Pluralism in the International Law of Property: On the Difficulties of Decolonizing Investment Law

Professor David Schneiderman

(University of Toronto/Gothenburg)

The Transformations of Property Project, Presents:

The Pasts and Futures of Property Seminar Series #1

  • Date: 30 January 2020
  • Time: 10:15–12:00
  • Venue: Styrelserummet at Faculty of Law–Lund University
  • Organizer: Dr. Leila Brännström

The recognition and protection of property under international law takes many forms. It takes its most muscular shape in the regime to protect foreign investors, entitling these actors to exorbitant damage awards against capital-importing states for breach of international treaty obligations. Multinational business firms operating abroad have been able to secure such protections at the urging of powerful capital exporting states and their lawyers in departments of state and foreign affairs. It is an extraordinary achievement in the contemporary legal world. One strategy for blunting the privileged position accorded to foreign economic actors is to refer to other operative regimes, for example, ones that protect the communal property interests of Indigenous peoples. Evidence of this strategy can be found in José Alvarez’s article on ‘The Human Right to Property.’
At this seminar, I will sketch a book chapter on the difficulty of decolonizing investment law. I plan to argue, first, that the legal security provided to foreign investors by investment law exhibits features characteristic of the legal hegemony achieved by colonial settlers over First Nations, namely, the dispossession of land, the displacement of local law, and the ‘depoliticization’ of development. That is, international protections for metropolitan-based entrepreneurs consolidate victories similar to those secured by the ‘internal colonialism’ of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. In addition to mapping similarities between foreign investment law and the law of settler states, I will argue, second, that the logic and practice of investment law makes it more difficult to engage meaningfully with Indigenous peoples regarding their relationship to traditional lands. As a consequence, it is highly unlikely that investment law’s property protections will disturb unbalanced power relations between Indigenous peoples and settler states. What is elided by those promoting international property is the continuing exercise of power and authority over subject populations, within and without of capital exporting states.

If you wish to attend the seminar Please send an email to Leila.brannstrom [at] for instructions and material.

*** This is an open event /// No registration is required ***

*** This event is organised in collaboration with: Transnational Law and Politics Research Group ***

Seminar: Decolonizing law and conceptualizing transnational law – theoretical and methodological implications for labour law scholarship

Professor Adelle Blackett (Faculty of Law McGill University)

Date: December 6th 2019
Time: 10:15–12:00
Venue: Styrelserummet at Faculty of Law – Lund University
Discussants: Dr Amin Parsa, Sociology of Law, Dr Niklas Selberg, Faculty of Law
(Lund University)

Professor Blackett is a unique and important voice in a conversation about the critical rethinking of (labour) law and its foundational narratives, as well as aspirations to refocus (labour) law ‘by asking what happens when labour law is forced to see itself in historically rooted, relational, and contextualized terms”. While refusing continuity for its own sake Blackett stresses the need for developing spaces in which alternative and counter-hegemonic narratives – i.e. narratives emerging from labour law’s peripheries in colonized land, dispossessed and disenfranchised people in the global South and North – of the purpose of (labour) law can be taken seriously. Blackett calls for a transnational solidarity in which “those of us articulating alternatives need to redouble our commitment to ensuring inclusive, truthful, and redemptive spaces for each other and for ‘other others’ to ground, (un)learn, and struggle together for emancipatory futures”.

*** This is a public event /// No registration is required ***

Seminar: Refugees Welcome?

Professor Leti Volpp (Berkeley Law)

Date : November 21, 2019, 10:00 – 12:00

Venue: Department of Sociology of Law – Lund University Hus M, Room M 331

“Along the Southern portion of the I-5 freeway in California appears a yellow sign depicting the silhouette of a man, woman, and female child in flight, captioned with text in black stating “Caution.” In the United States, the sign’s clear reference is to “illegal migration,” and serves as a meme for longstanding debates about immigration to the United States. But the sign has a different association in Europe, where the identical image of running man, woman and child has been popularly paired with the text “Welcome Refugees.” The sign’s history, and its afterlife as a symbol of bodies moving across nation-state borders reveals unpredictable resignification, and starkly diverging understandings of human flight.”

Leti Volpp is Robert D. and Leslie Kay Raven Professor of Law in Access to Justice at Berkeley Law, University of California. She researches immigration and citizenship law with a particular focus on how law is shaped by ideas about culture and identity. Her latest book (co-edited with Marianne Constable and Bryan Wagner), Looking for Law in all the Wrong Places: Justice Beyond and Between, Fordham University Press (2019) is available here:

*** This is a public event /// No registration is required ***

This event is organized in collaboration with Critical Border Studies: 

Workshop and Book Discussion: Material Practices of Power

On May 10th 2019 Law & the Social Research Network hosted its first event; a full-day program on legal materiality and material practices of power.

In the workshop session included five research presentations:

Hyo Yoon Kang (Kent Law School)
# Legal Materiality as a Heterodox Approach

Mahmoud Keshavarz (EV/ Uppsala University)
# Smuggling as a Technical Critique of Borders

Sara Kendall (Kent Law School)
# ‘The beauty … is that it speaks for itself’: New evidentiary forms in international criminal litigation

Daniela Agostinho (University of Copenhagen)
# Remote Technologies, Intimacy and the Liberal Sensorium

Amin Parsa (Lund University)
# International Law and Technological Control of Borders

In the afternoon Sara Kendall (Senior Lecturer in International Law at Kent Law School) engaged in an hour long discussion with Mahmoud Keshavarz (Post doc researcher – Engaging Vulnerability Research Program at Uppsala University) on Mahmoud’s recently published book:

The Design Politics of the Passport: Materiality, Immobility, and Dissent, London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2018. 

Found here.