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Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup studied the History of Ideas and Political Science at the University of Aarhus and is currently associate professor at the School of Culture and Society, Department of the History of Ideas. He is research director of the project ‘Economic Argumentation’ (http://ecora.au.dk/) and this project on ‘Contested Property Claims’.

His work has mainly been diagnostic in its intent and content trying to combine a somewhat classical reading of the canon of European political, social and economic thought with a contemporary analysis of a plurality of sources trying to identify structural similarities, argumentative repetitions and common understandings in texts otherwise far apart, like strategy documents from the military, management texts, political philosophy, self-help books, terrorist manuals, legal opinions, activist manifestos, governmental reports, social scientific literature etc. This broad reading allows him to either reconstruct the shared background notions informing these many texts, actors and situations or to use the idea of a commonality to investigate how this particular text or actor strategically use and manipulate the available conceptual and argumentative resources in this or that particular situation. It also allows him to work in and with the relations between thinking and acting, social conditions and argumentative possibilities and to let historical readings inform contemporary issues.

In this research project Thorup will combine intellectual history with a social history contextualist approach to do empirical investigations of contemporary property disputes focusing on the Christiania legalization debate and the Youth House (Ungdomshuset) controversy, the latter of which involves conflicting property claims of the city council, the private owners, inner-city community and businesses as well as the young users. This is done to analyze how public actors draw on long, authoritative but seldom articulated traditions of property argumentation while being engaged in social disputes and how those conceptual and normative resources are being strategically used and manipulated to stake contestable property claims while simultaneously claiming allegiance to the normal property regime.

Patrick J. L. Cockburn

Patrick J. L. Cockburn studied philosophy and sociology at the University of Exeter and continental philosophy at the University of Dundee. In 2012 he received his PhD at the School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University, Denmark, where he now works on ‘The Morality of Property’, part of the interdisciplinary project on ‘Contested Property Claims’, funded by The Carlsberg Foundation and The Danish Council for Independent Research.

His research focuses on the role of rhetoric in public struggles over economic legitimacy. As part of the ‘Contested Property Claims’ project he examines the variety of moral and political arguments that social actors use to frame the idea and institution of property as they make claims about the justice or injustice of a contemporary property relations, and comment on social actions such as squatting, which challenge dominant understandings of property rights. Arguments about the role of property in organizing social life can focus on questions of individual autonomy, of social justice, of economic efficiency, of personal development, or of political order more broadly. These arguments develop normative accounts of good social order, and of how property can and should fit into that order, and as they do this they make claims about what property means as a concept, and about what examples from social life illustrate best how the institution of property works. This project sorts out the different varieties of arguments current in property scholarship and in public debate about squatting, and focuses in particular on how these arguments describe the relations between property, human needs, and the passing of time.

Maja Hojer Bruun

Maja Hojer Bruun has an MA (2004) and a PhD (2012) in anthropology from the University of Copenhagen. She is an assistant professor at Aalborg University where she teaches anthropology in the interdisciplinary degree programme Techno-anthropology. Her main research interests are urban studies, political, economic and legal anthropology, STS and the use of technology in welfare institutions. She has conducted fieldwork in Russia and Denmark.

Her sub-project "Moral reasoning in everyday practices of expropriation and appropriation" in the Contested Property Claims research project emphasizes the multiplicity and coexistence of different types of claims to property in everyday life and takes specific property controversies around urban space as case studies.

Bjarke Skærlund Risager

Bjarke Skærlund Risager is a BA and cand.soc. (2012) in Social Science, Philosophy and History of Ideas from Aarhus University. He also holds an MA (2012) in Critical Methodologies from King’s College London. He is a PhD Fellow in the Contested Property Claims project. 

In his PhD project, Bjarke Skærlund Risager investigates sociospatial dimensions of movements and activism, primarily in the contemporary context of crisis and austerity in Europe. He does this from an interdisciplinary approach, where social movement theory, human geography, and political economy constitute the theoretical bedrock. He asks how the multiple geographies of crisis and social movement action intersect and how the relations between these geographies and the movement actors in question unfold. Specifically, he interrogates the sociospatial dynamics of square occupations, sociospatial imaginaries and performances of mass anti-austerity protests, the multiple relations between organization and activism, and the idea of the Right to the City in relation to contemporary anti-eviction movements in Europe. To answer these questions, he employs both qualitative analyses of textual material, participant observation and in-depth interviews.