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Charles Geisler

Charles Geisler


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My principal academic work engages the sociology of property, its genealogy, abiding controversies, and centrality in development debates. Controversies that interest me include the ontology of ownership; normative property claims making; distribution of landed property; new forms of group possession/dispossession; property rights and human rights; property in states of exception; and emergent forms of ownership blending public and private interests.

Research Focus

My current research falls into four thematic clusters:
1-States and Property: a) Social relations of property and the state, b) Co-evolving state-property systems, c) Police power and ownership, and d) Land reform and restitution/redistribution.
2-Involuntary Land Alienation: a)Terra Nullius and development discourse, b) Tragedy of the commoners, c) The lost/found art of seeing and grabs, and d) Property rights and human rights.
3-Armed Enclosures: a) Military occupation theory, a) Crisis, force, and preemption due to homeland securitization, b) Non-state armed organizations and counter-spacing, and c) New cosmographies of power and new enclosures.
4-New Forms of Ownership: a) Trends in post-property, b) Human hyper-mobility and property on the move, c) The bundles of responsibilities, and d) Public Trust Doctrine and the future of ownership.

Outreach and Extension Focus

My outreach activities represent informal projects usually dealing with land and natural issues of interest to citizens of New York and the region. Here are three examples:
>> In recent years I collaborated with Cornell's American Indian Program in an effort to establish connections between the Indian Communities of the Great Lakes Region, the NYS Water Resources Institute, and the Cornell Law School;
>> I have lectured on and off campus on the cumulative impacts of horizontal hydro-fracking on towns and property owners in the Marcellus Shale region of New York and submitted multiple statements with my findings to NYS's Department of Environmental Conservation in its deliberations over gas industry permits for the state.
>> I am currently affiliated with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Citizen Scientist program "YardMap" which maps and interconnects homeowners and others committed to improving habitat and biodiversity in their neighborhoods and regions. My interest is in using this technology and motivation to informally establish collective property rights across ownership units and geopolitical boundaries.

Though I do not have a formal Extension appointment, I maintain an active interest in issues of natural gas and other mobile subsurface resources currently in the policy spotlight of New York.

Teaching Focus

I am currently dedicated to three teaching areas: 1) environment and society with attention to land use, ownership, and control; 2) the crisis complex associated with the Anthropocene bio-physical-
human environment; and 3) evolving forms of global conflict and terrorism. The first and last occur in DSOC 3240 and DSOC 4810; the second in a graduate seminar, DSOC 7600.

Awards and Honors

  • Distinguished Service (2007) Cornell American Indian Program

Presentations and Activities

  • Development by Dispossession: Land Grabbing as New Enclosures in Contemporary Ethiopia. International Conference on Global Land Grabbing. April 2011. Institute of Development Studies. Sussex University, Brighton UK.