Commoning is about complex and historically specific processes through which representation, practices and values intersect in circumscribing what is to be shared and how in a specific society. – Stavros Stavrides

Experiences of space commoning in contemporary metropolises create forms of shared public life that overspill the boundaries of existing public spaces. Common space produced through practices of urban commoning may give form to processes of cooperation which encourage encounters and offer opportunities of creative communication. If enclave spatiality corresponds to rules that enclose and corrupt commoning, threshold spatiality characterizes those common spaces that invite newcomers and are not identified with any self-enclosing community. Threshold spatiality corresponds to forms of selfmanagement that permit the expansion of commoning circles. Opposed to public spaces which are used under the rules established by specific authorities, common spaces emerge as urban thresholds through practices that rediscover democracy as praxis. The sharing between equals and the opening of the circles of sharing towards “‘outsiders’” necessarily implies creating forms and rules of urban social life that can profit from differences and encourage the participatory building of shared urban worlds. Drawing from examples related to the recent experiences of urban commoning in Mexican and Brazilian cities, this presentation will attempts to show that emerging common spaces may shape potentialities of different forms of social organization. It is through such experiences that autonomy as a political project may be re-problematized. Spaces of autonomy, thus, may be rethought not as “‘autonomous spaces’” but, rather as spaces of expanding commoning which potentially challenge the dominant “‘city of enclaves’”.

Guiding Questions:

  • What makes common space different from public space?
    Is urban space a good or a resource to be shared?
  • What does it mean to claim the right to the city in the context of urban commoning?
  • What is the role of urban communities in the definition of urban commons?
  • What kind of power relations define and sustain urban commoning? Is the arrangement of city spaces part of the process of establishing power geometries?
  • Can collective experiences of urban commoning be connected to struggles for social emancipation?
Posted in UEL
Posted by:Dr. Carolin Genz

Dr. Carolin Genz is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Department for Cultural and Social Geography at the Humboldt-University and Research Associate in the Collaborative Research Centre 1265 "Re-Figuration of Spaces" in the project area "Knowledge of Space" at Technische Universtität Berlin. As an urban anthropologist in the intersecting fields of social anthropology, human geography, and urban studies, she constantly develops ethnographic methods to capture the socio-spatial constitution of urban practices. Her research focuses on spatial theory and practices of resistance, housing, and gender.

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