Communal Land Tenure: Decolonial resistance to vulnerabilization in Puerto Rico and Barbuda

We were honoured to have Line Algoed from the Vrije University Brussels to give a lecture in "Political Ecology and Spatial Development" course.

Defending collective land rights to resist the colonial history –
Lines research examines two Caribbean communities’ post-disaster experiences in defending their collective land rights to resist the colonial histories of privatization and enclosure of land: in what ways do these local communities use communal land tenure to resist the consequences of climate change and the processes of vulnerabilization imposed by the political and economic elites?

Community Land Trusts

• Separates individually owned homes from collectively owned land.
• The land is owned by the Trust, a non-profit organization.
• The Trust is governed by a tripartite structure: one part CLT land inhabitants, one part residents wider area, one part government.
• By taking land out of the market, housing becomes permanently affordable.


Community Land Trusts as an affordable housing strategy
Building on the conceptual framework of disaster capitalism and colonial roots of land policy; and the theoretical framework of decolonial thought and feminist theory, Line uses action-based research methodology to analyze “community land trusts” as a land policy and affordable housing strategy that is developed and pursued as a collective resistance to political, economic, and social vulnerabilization.

Fostering resilience through a stronger sense of community –
Algoed concludes that communal land tenure helps nurture a stronger sense of community as a foundation for mutual aid initiatives that also foster international solidarity when local “democracies” are co-opted by the elites’ financial interests.

Read more on the topic in Lines publication "The Land Is Ours. Vulnerabilization and resistance in informal settlements in Puerto Rico: Lessons from the Caño Martín Peña Community Land Trust" (2019) here.

Behind the article

Line Algoed is an urban anthropologist with 15 years of work and research experience in urban planning, housing, community work, and international development. Her Ph.D. research at Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research explores how communal land ownership in the Caribbean creates an alternative development model that allows communities to control land use, protect the environment, and counter displacements while strengthening themselves to face climate change and having greater control over their recovery from climate change-induced disasters. She focuses on communal land tenure systems in Barbuda and the Caño Martín Peña Community Land Trust in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Both areas have been severely affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and are going through radical neoliberal reforms imposed by their governments. (


Text by Dr. Deniz Ay, edited by Timo Trinidad.
Images: Line Algoed