Shrinking Commons Conference

Shrinking Commons Conference's image
Created: 2014-10-15 16:01
Institution: Department of Geography
Description: The Shrinking Commons

What do we mean by common property?

What resources do we continue to hold in common?

What is their fate?

The commons have been described as a drama, even - famously - a 'tragedy'. Their fate, their future, has never seemed more parlous, with climate change, population growth, and competition for scarce resources seemingly threatening our greatest common property, the planet itself. Enclosure - once seen as the end of the commons - is touted by some as the only way to protect precious environments subject to encroachment. At the same time, undergirded by a general anxiety that the natural, social and political commons are at risk from the encroachments of capitalist expansion, hyper-consumption, and corporatist politics, critics of enclosure grasping for a new counter-narrative, propose a new global commons as the only solution to pressing global problems. The commons, far from disappearing, and irreducible to merely 'public goods', remain central to material struggles and utopian imaginaries of collective ownership and wellbeing.

Yet what exactly is meant by the commons today? How do we define them? How are they formed, and for whom? What are the prospects for new commons and new forms of 'commoning'? What political languages and narratives about what is held 'in common' should we seek to endorse?

This symposium addresses these questions, following developments across three historically vital 'passage points': the ownership, availability and condition of land and nature; the technologies and infrastructures of collective provisioning; and the structuring of publics and their rights. Participants - drawn from the natural and social sciences, and from diverse disciplines ranging from architecture, anthropology, geography, environmental science, urbanism, sociology, and philosophy - will explore the processes behind the shrinking commons, but also demonstrate their survival and expansion, as well as the development of new and emergent commons. The Symposium also features four public lectures with keynote speakers reflecting on the loss and the promise of global commons.

Throughout, we consider the material, discursive and ideological implications of things being held, managed, and imagined 'in common'. Our ultimate aim is to encapsulate the breadth of contemporary change and to find within it the terms and sites of a new language of collective presence and shared returns.

The symposium is organized by the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge.
 

Media items

This collection contains 8 media items.

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Media items

Alun Anderson - New Scientist Who can own the Arctic?

   27 views

Alun Anderson, Senior Consultant, New Scientist
Who can own the Arctic?

9 September 2014

By 2030 Arctic summer ice may be gone for good. Who can own the wealth that the...

Collection: Shrinking Commons Conference

Institution: Department of Geography

Created: Mon 20 Oct 2014


Dr Alex Jeffrey - Transnational Courts: A New Legal Commons?

   103 views

This paper considers the geographical implications of the recent increased prominence of transnational instruments of law. Prompted by work celebrating the emancipatory potential...

Collection: Shrinking Commons Conference

Institution: Department of Geography

Created: Tue 13 Jan 2015


Dr Colin McFarlane - The metabolic urban commons: informality and everyday Life

   138 views

As an ideal and material space, the ‘urban commons’ is often understood in relation to either defence or to the production of new collectives. The commons is both something in...

Collection: Shrinking Commons Conference

Institution: Department of Geography

Created: Tue 13 Jan 2015


Professor John Urry - Offshoring as a way of undermining the Commons?

   77 views

Professor John Urry, Lancaster University
Offshoring as a way of undermining the Commons?

8 September 2014

Offshoring has become a pervasive feature of contemporary...

Collection: Shrinking Commons Conference

Institution: Department of Geography

Created: Mon 20 Oct 2014


Professor Katherine Gibson - Postcapitalist practices of commoning and a performative politics of assemblage

   88 views

Professor Katherine Gibson, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney
Postcapitalist practices of commoning and a performative politics of assemblage

9...

Collection: Shrinking Commons Conference

Institution: Department of Geography

Created: Mon 20 Oct 2014


Professor Marilyn Strathern - Inroads on altruism

   156 views

Much discourse in the field of organ and tissue donation suggests that people (in the UK) fear a constant shrinkage of the public virtue of altruism, which therefore needs...

Collection: Shrinking Commons Conference

Institution: Department of Geography

Created: Tue 13 Jan 2015


Professor Natalie Fenton - 'Politics in Common' in the Digital Age

   42 views

Professor Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths College, University of London
'Politics in Common' in the Digital Age

8 September 2014

In opposition to the neoliberal destruction of...

Collection: Shrinking Commons Conference

Institution: Department of Geography

Created: Mon 20 Oct 2014


Professor Sarah Radcliffe - The Shrinking Commons and Uneven Geographies of Development

   103 views

Global development geographies have always been characterized by skewed access to dignified and stable livelihoods and public services. Yet since the late 20th century, the...

Collection: Shrinking Commons Conference

Institution: Department of Geography

Created: Tue 13 Jan 2015