The Nomos of the Freeport

Stefan Schwarzkopf*, Jessica Inez Backsell

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    This article provides a genealogy of the freeport, which are tax-free warehouse facilities for collectors and investors to store artwork and other luxury collectibles in a way that exempts them from customs duties and taxes. The case of the freeport raises questions about the fate of art in neoliberal wealth management regimes, but also questions about the geopolitical and spatial nature of financialized capitalism. The article works with Carl Schmitt’s theory of the spatial framing of political–economic orders around the juxtaposition of land and sea and shows that freeports detach themselves from this oppositional logic. Further, we propose that a full understanding of the freeport as space–time arrangement needs to take recourse to a particular medieval theological concept, namely that of purgatory. Based on this interpretative framework, we argue that mobility-oriented sociological concepts are insufficient to grasp the nature of the freeport.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)328-346
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Published online: 1. September 2020.


    • Foreign trade zones
    • Freeports
    • Immobility
    • Land and sea
    • Nomos
    • Purgatory

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