Rosa Congost is a lecturer in Economic History at the University of Gerona (Spain) and Coordinator of the university’s Research Centre on Rural History. In 2013, she received the distinction ICREA (Catalonian Institute for Advanced Research), Academy of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia. From 2015 to 2017, she chaired the EURHO (European Rural History Organization) of which she had been vice-Chairperson since its founding year in 2010. Her latest works are the publication, with Jorge Gelman and Rui Santos, of Property Rights in Land: Issues on Social, Economic and Global History (2017) and the book El joven Pierre Vilar, 1924-1939. Las lecciones de historia (2018).
Property rights in land: a historical and comparative perspective; a realistic and relational approach. Social change in history: social dynamics and transformations; the birth and decline of the middle classes. Historiography: the historical work of Pierre Vilar
Property, property owners: what social reality?
My project intends to develop the historical analysis of uses of property and property rights, using the approach that we’ve called realistic and relational. This approach, which requires to distance oneself from a nominalist or purely institutionalist vision of property, should be applied to both European countries and those with a colonial past, and to societies of the old regime as well as contemporary societies. The comparative perspective, as much in the area of laws and norms as in that of property practices, proves to be the best way to directly question the meaning of vocabulary used by social scientists for the analysis of property relationships in effect in each society. This operation is necessary to overcome certain schematic visions that, shaped by the words used, impede not only the comparison between different societies but also the evolution of societies itself. The accurate interpretation of what’s really at play between the norms and practices related to property rights, and the processes of appropriation and expropriation of the ensuing resources, requires extending and broadening the notion of property rights to the different ways in which possession coexists in any one society, and can change over time, within different social groups and along with the rest of society.