From the practices of the « commons » to the right to the city

Conférence, Science, Roma

Istituto Svizzero di Roma, Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, Facoltà di Scienze Politiche ‘La Sapienza’



Conférence, Science

Istituto Svizzero di Roma, Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, Facoltà di Scienze Politiche ‘La Sapienza’

Two years ago in San Lorenzo, the historic district of Rome, citizens, artists and students occupied the former Cinema Palazzo to block the slated opening of a casino there; a few months later, the 7th Civil Section of the Court of Rome acquitted the occupiers and sanctioned the legitimacy of their action.

Starting with this fact, the cycle of seminars From the practices of the «commons» to the right to the city, promoted by Nuovo Cinema Palazzo in collaboration with the Swiss Institute in Rome and the Libera Università Metropolitana (LUft), attempts to investigate questions of ownership, focusing on the theme of public assets, collective practices and production of legal rights in the metropolitan context.


The relationship between the Swiss Institute in Rome and Nuovo Cinema Palazzo began with the newspaper P/act for Art, which last year published contributions from artistic and cultural organizations of the independent metropolitan scene, as well as conflictual experiences of occupation and self-management, including the space at San Lorenzo. These are practices which are directly challenging the institutions, standards and relationships in which art and culture are produced, distributed and experienced.

With Michele Luminati, the new director of the Swiss Institute in Rome and an internationally acclaimed expert on law, the Swiss Institute wants to deepen its territorial and local relations, inviting Swiss and Italian scholars to investigate a model capable of establishing profound links with the local dimension, and of producing original forms of social legitimacy.

Starting with the experience of Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, now an important center of cultural production for the city, these encounters attempt to focus on the system of regulations in which we are immersed: a “living law” that springs from the production of new practices, habits and precedents. The idea is to start with experiences that go against an essentially absolutist vision of the production of norms and the priority of ownership, exploring “different” and “opposing” modes of possession (Paolo Grossi, 1977). How is it possible to renew the category of collective uses, not has reduction of property, but as a guarantee of access to a wider range of rights? In what way can the relationship between formal rights, use and availability of power to act be redefined? How to practice uses between reinterpretation, recognition and autonomy?

Re-questioning the present status of the social function of property, in the light of the spread of reappropriation of physical and symbolic spaces, means reflecting on the re-creative capacity of law, not only of the encoded law but also habitual and judicial law. What regulations, institutes or devices lend themselves to reinterpretations, permeability and metamorphosis with respect to these emerging practices?


We will try to answer these questions with international scholars and jurists like Paolo Grossi, previously professor of the History of ftedieval Law at the University of Florence, of History of Italian ftedieval and ftodern Law at the Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa of Naples, and now Constitutional Judge of the Italian Republic; Paolo Maddalena, Vice- President of the Constitutional Court; Ugo Mattei, professor of International and Comparative Law at Hastings College of the Law of the University of California at San Francisco, as well as professor of Civil Law at the University of Turin; Claude Raffestin, professor of Human Geography at the University of Geneva; Maria Rosaria Marella, professor of Private Law at the University of Perugia; Enzo Scandurra, professor of Urban Planning at Università La Sapienza in Rome; Agostino Petrillo, professor of Architecture and Urban Studies at the ftilan Polytechnic; Etienne Balibar, professor of Political and ftoral Philosophy at the University of Paris X – Nanterre; Stefano Rodotà, professor of Civil Law at Università La Sapienza of Roma, and the chairman, in 2007, of the Italian Commission for the reform of the civil code regarding public assets; Franz Werro, professor of Law at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and Georgetown Law in Washington DC; Saskia Sassen, professor at Columbia University and the London School of Economics.


These seminars will be held at Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, Villa ftaraini (headquarters of the Swiss Institute in Rome) and the Department of Political Sciences of Università La Sapienza of Rome, from ftarch to June 2013: a cycle of encounters around the city, because we want to start with the city and its forms of urban resistance to observe those creative processes of the “commons”, where social struggles take form and different worlds find space for convergence and relations.

Looking at the city from this vantage point means first of all recognizing that the city is a collective work determined by the dense weave of interactions between subjects, both in the competition for spaces and in the processes of production, attribution of meaning and representation. Therefore the right to the city is not just a matter of the right to control processes of development, but also the wider right to take back control over the material and immaterial process of urban creation.

Exploring the theme of citizenship to rethink collective political capacity, we want to investigate the bases of a constituent perspective, namely the active capacity to lay claim to and produce rights in a public space, without being excluded from the “right to struggle for one’s own rights” (Stefano Rodotà, 2012).

What is at stake is a deeper understanding of how social practices can foreshadow new forms of citizenship, in which cases and under which conditions they can produce new institutions, between renewal of the repertory of rules and production of autonomy where the regulation – becoming less and less «transcendental» – appears to be open and permeable to transformations.


For a genealogy of property
8 March at 5:00 pmNuovo Cinema Palazzo, San Lorenzo
Ugo Mattei (University of Turin)
Paolo Maddalena (Vice-President of the Constitutional Court)
Michele Luminati (Director of the Swiss Institute of Rome)

From urban space as a common asset to the right to the city
10 April at 5:00 pm
Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, San Lorenzo
Claude Raffestin (University of Geneva)
Rosaria Marella (University of Perugia)
Enzo Scandurra (La Sapienza, Rome)
Agostino Petrillo (Milan Polytechnic)

Which civic uses in the metropolis?
23 April at 5:00 pm
Istituto Svizzero di Roma
Paolo Grossi (Constitutional Judge of the Italian Republic)

Europe, citizenship and democracy

22 May at 4:00 pm
Università La Sapienza, Facoltà di Scienze Politiche
Etienne Balibar (Università di Paris X – Nanterre)

The right to have rights
June at 5:00 pm
Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, S. Lorenzo
Stefano Rodotà (La Sapienza, Rome)
Franz Werro (University of Fribourg)

City, globalization, rights
June at 5:00 pm
Nuovo Cinema Palazzo, S. Lorenzo
Saskia Sassen (Columbia University)