Dr Saskia Vermeylen




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. My recent empirical work has been funded by several SFC GCRF grants and focuses on cultural heritage and legal pluralism in Zimbabwe. 

  2. Property theory and ethics: I have developed a Levinasian based property theory which is conceptualised 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. Some of this research has been funded through a Leverhulme research fellowship (2019-2021). Together with the expertise I have gained in the area of legal pluralism, my arts-based enquiries around resource frontiers, have also shaped the methodology and focus of the One Ocean Hub. 

  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. This research is funded by an AHRC project on rights of rivers and I will soon be hosting a Marie Curie Fellow working on a common property regime for microbes.

My teaching in the areas of legal theory and environmental justice and ethics is inspired by border pedagogy and epistemologies from the South. 

I am also passionate about research supervision and I am currently the PGR co-director in the law school. 


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Corporations and the duty of care for nature? An amicus curiae for the case of Vedanta Resources PLC and another v Lungowe and others
Vermeylen Saskia
UK Earth Law Judgments Reimagining Law for People and Planet (2024) (2024)
Are ecological processes that select beneficial traits in agricultural microbes nature's intellectual property rights?
Kothamasi David, Vermeylen Saskia, Deepika Sharma
Nature Biotechnology Vol 41, pp. 1381–1384 (2023)
Ethical vulnerability analysis and unconditional hospitality in times of COVID-19 : rethinking social welfare provision for asylum seekers in Scotland
Da Lomba Sylvie, Vermeylen Saskia
International Journal of Law in Context Vol 19, pp. 143-160 (2023)
Rethinking vulnerability as a radically ethical device : ethical vulnerability analysis and the EU's "migration crisis"
Da Lomba Sylvie, Vermeylen Saskia
Human Rights Review Vol 24, pp. 263-288 (2023)
Understanding the rights of nature : working together across and beyond disciplines
Gilbert Jeremie, Soliev Ilkhom, Robertson Anne, Vermeylen Saskia, Williams Neil W, Grabowski Robert C
Human Ecology Vol 51, pp. 363-377 (2023)
Navigating a sea of laws : small-scale fishing communities and customary rights in Ghana and South Africa
Christoffels-DuPlessis Anthea, Erinosho Bolanle, Major Laura, Morgera Elisa, Sunde Jackie, Vermeylen Saskia
The Palgrave Handbook of Blue Heritage (2022) (2022)

More publications

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Professional Activities

Simon Makuvaza
Property Theory and Nomadic Thinking
Space Law and Science Fiction Literature
Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples
Space Law
XVI Biennial IASC-Conference: Practising the Commons: From recognition to re-enclosure of the commons: examining impacts, challenges and opportunities of formal legal recognition of the commons

More professional activities


Exhibition EXTR-Activism Space Law and Afrofuturism
Vermeylen, Saskia (Principal Investigator)
EXTR-Actvism presents artistic positions that challenge the new commercial space race for mineral extractivism. International space law - a product of the Cold War era - is ambiguous in its language as it is unclear if commercial mining, governed through private property rights, is allowed under the Outer Space Treaty (1967). The artworks selected for this exhibition explore the notions of extractivism and neo-colonialism of the commercial space era against the background of African countries developing their own space programme.

The exhibition retells the story of extractivism and space travel from the perspective of Afronauts. The forgotten histories, contested legacies and repressed memories of space travel are explored through a plethora of art practices that seek to blur the boundaries and distinctions between fiction and reality.
01-Jan-2021 - 31-Jan-2021
Guardians of the Rivers" and the future of Earth Law: towards a new Legal, Ecological and Participatory (LEAP) model for Environmental Humanities?
Vermeylen, Saskia (Principal Investigator)
11-Jan-2020 - 11-Jan-2021
MICROB-COM Microbial Commons: Building a legal instrument for farmers rights on agricultural microbial resources H2020 MCSA-IF2019
Vermeylen, Saskia (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2022
Utopian Literatures and Space Law
Vermeylen, Saskia (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2022
GCRF One Ocean Hub
Morgera, Elisa (Principal Investigator) Baum, Thomas (Co-investigator) Cathcart, Alison (Co-investigator) Clark, Bryan (Co-investigator) Da Lomba, Sylvie (Co-investigator) Heath, Mike (Co-investigator) Revie, Matthew (Co-investigator) Sindico, Francesco (Co-investigator) Switzer, Stephanie (Co-investigator) Vermeylen, Saskia (Co-investigator) Webster, Elaine (Co-investigator) Laverick, Jack (Researcher)
13-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2024
Inclusive tourism in the city: how urban tourism can benefit marginalised and vulnerable communities
Baum, Thomas (Principal Investigator) Tomazos, Konstantinos (Co-investigator) Rogerson, Robert (Co-investigator) Vermeylen, Saskia (Co-investigator) Dimitrijevic, Branka (Co-investigator) Horgan, Donagh (Co-investigator)
Multi-disciplinary research-informing workshop, funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) in collaboration with the University of the Philippines Diliman to engage with tourism from a social and economic inclusion perspective in the context of the contemporary city. Involved engagement with this theme from multiple perspectives including gender, economic, employment, human rights, urban planning, architecture, law and anthropology.
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2018

More projects

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Dr Saskia Vermeylen

Email: saskia.vermeylen@strath.ac.uk
Tel: 548 3188