CFP on the Common(s)

From Ursula Lang:

Call for Papers: Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers
AAG 2018 – New Orleans, April 10-14, 2018

The Commons, Commoning and Co-becomings: Enacting Postcapitalist Futures & Nurturing Life in Common

Session Organizers: Ursula Lang (Rhode Island School of Design), Gustavo Garcia (Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras), and Neera Singh (University of Toronto)

There has been an explosion of interest in the commons not just as a viable model for environmental governance, but also as nurturing grounds for postcapitalist politics. Scholars working on the commons in common-pool resources theory in the Ostrom tradition have traditionally focused on the commons as shared natural resources, highlighting “rules-in-use” and institutional arrangements. However, recent work in autonomous Marxist tradition focuses on the shared commonwealth of humanity and the role of the commons in nurturing postcapitalist subjectivities, alternate forms of production and provisioning, and ways of relating and valuing life in common (Caffentzis and Federici 2014, Linebaugh 2009, Bollier and Helfrich 2014).

Geographers have contributed and responded to growing scholarship and praxis on the commons, where the commons and commoning are seen as advancing other-than-capitalist community economies (Gibson-Graham, 2006); counter hegemonic common senses (Garcia Lopez et al 2017); challenging enclosure and accumulation by dispossession (Jeffrey et al 2012, Hodkinson 2012, Paudel 2016,); as nurturing grounds for collective subjectivity (Singh, 2017); and as creation of new urban commons and hybrid forms of governance  (Chatterton 2010, Baviskar and Gidwani 2011, Eizenberg 2012, Lang 2014, Turner 2016). We are especially drawn to scholarship that views the commons and commoning as practices for fostering postcapitalist subjectivity and life in common.

In this session, we invite empirical and conceptual papers that examine the role of the commons in fostering other-than-capitalist ways of being and relating to the more-than-human world – of nurturing subjectivities of ‘being-in-common’ with the rest of the world. We seek to connect lived practices with emerging academic attention on affective and relational ecologies of living and being in common.

Some possible themes include:
1. The commons as nurturing grounds of subjectivity.
2. The commons as a source of sustaining life through relations of care and cultivation.
3. Different conceptions of human in the Anthropocene. How do ways of being in common and relating to the commons recognize or enable different ways of being human to emerge and flourish? (e.g. the Anthropo-not-seen, la Cadena)
4. What work do commons do – in the world, on commoners, on capacities for co-becomings?
5. Rhythms and temporalities of commons. How might new commons emerge, and how are commons sustained?
6. Struggles against enclosure of the commons.
7. What are the limits of the commons?
8. Value and commoning. How does engagement with the practices of commoning lead to different ways of conceptualizing value?

Please send abstracts of not more than 250 words by October 10, to Ursula Lang, Neera Singh, and Gustavo Garcia Lopez (,, We will let participants know by October 15, and you will need to submit an AAG pin to us by October 20.

Baviskar and Gidwani (2011) Urban Commons. Economic and Political Weekly 46(50)
Bollier and Helfrich (2014) Patterns of Commoning. The Commons Strategies Group.
Chatterton (2010) Seeking the urban common: Furthering the debate on spatial justice. City 14: 6, 625-628
Eizenberg (2012) Actually existing commons: Three moments of space of community gardens in New York City. Antipode 44(3):764-782
Caffentzis & Federici (2014) Commons against and beyond capitalism. Community Development Journal, 49(suppl 1), i92-i105.
García López, Velicu, & D’Alisa (2017) Performing Counter-Hegemonic Common(s) Senses: Rearticulating Democracy, Community and Forests in Puerto Rico. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 1-20.
Gibson-Graham JK (2006) A Postcapitalist Politics. Univ of MN Press.
Jeffrey, McFarlane, Vasudevan (2012) Rethinking Enclosure: Space, Subjectivity and the Commons. Antipode 44(4):1247-1267
Lang (2014) The common life of yards. Urban Geography 35(6):852-869
Linebaugh (2009) The Magna Carta Manifesto. Univ of CA Press.
Paudel (2016) Re-inventing the commons: community forestry as accumulation without dispossession in Nepal. Journal of Peasant Studies. 43(5): 989-1009
Singh (2017) Becoming a commoner: The commons as site for affective socio-nature encounters and co-becomings. Ephemera. (forthcoming)
Turner (2016) Political ecology III: The commons and commoning. Progress in Human Geography. Aug 26, 2016

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