Saskia Vermeylen


  • United Kingdom


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am a socio-legal property scholar contributing to related but distinctive research areas:

  1. Cultural property: This work has been mainly developed around legal anthropology and I have developed new understandings of legal pluralism and customary law of indigenous peoples in the area of cultural property. I have conducted for over 15 years multi-site ethnography in 4 Southern African countries across 6 different San language groups.

  2. Property theory and ethics: I have developed a Levinasian based property theory which I have conceptualise as property as generosity. In this work, I engage extensively with continental philosophy, besides Levinas, I also draw upon Jacques Derrida. Methodologically, I use phenomenology through literary studies with a strong focus on postcolonial literature which I apply to different concepts of property.

  3. Property frontiers: I critique the extension of liberal property discourses into new and accelerated property regimes with a specific focus on outer space and the common heritage principle. This research is methodologically strongly embedded in literary studies with a very strong focus on AfricanFUTURISM, ecocriticism and science fiction. Increasingly this work also extends to visual and performative art, including curating, commissioning and developing site-specific arts.

  4. Materialities of property: This body of work engages methodologically with feminist posthumanism, eco-philosophy and speculative philosophy and I apply this to new property regimes in the area of microbes, deep seabed and fugitive natural resources. 

External positions

Visiting Fellow, Rhodes University

1 Sep 2020 → …

Visiting Scholar, University of Edinburgh

1 Sep 201423 Dec 2014

Visiting scholar, University of California, Berkeley

15 Aug 201323 Dec 2013


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