Commons | Reading Group

Call for Participation
Part of A Potential Toronto

Mondays, 8-10pm, Oct. 1 to Dec. 3, 2007
Location TBC

Copies of readings provided.

Facilitated by Shiri Pasternak

What are the commons and why has the idea emerged again, everywhere, in popular culture and political theory? What kinds of questions does the concept of commons seem to answer amidst the clamour of social and environmental crisis today? This reading group will approach the commons by asking questions about the nature and histories of enclosure. We will be asking: How do property regimes affect social order; how do they foreclose or fuel commons and common space? What is the relationship between sovereignty, property, and the commons? We will also look at the way the concept of the commons is being co-opted by neo-liberalism and competing hegemonic regimes and explore the relationships between information commons and place-based commons.

Week 1
Cole Harris. “How Did Colonialism Dispossess? Comments from an Edge of Empire” (2004), Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94:1, 165-182.

Nicholas Blomley. “Law, Property, and the Spaces of Violence: The Frontier, the Survey, and the Grid” (2003), Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 93:1, March 2003, 121-141.

Week 2
Farshad Araghi. “The Great Global Enclosure of Our Times: Peasants and the Agrarian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century,” Chapter 8 in Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment, eds. Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster and Frederick H. Buttel. Monthly Review Press Books, 2000.

Week 3
Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite. Information Feudalism. “Introduction.” Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2002.

Watch, if you can: Sonic Outlaws – documentary film by Craig Baldwin

Week 4
John Willinsky. “The unacknowledged convergence of open source, open access, and open science,” First Monday, volume 10, number 8 (August 2005).

Week 5
Margaret E.I. Kipp. “Software and seeds: Open source methods,” First Monday, 10:9, (September 2005).

Week 6
Anthony McCann. “Enclosure Without and Within the ‘Information Commons.'” Information and Communications Technology Law 14(3):217-240 (October 2005).

Week 7
Constantine Caffentzis. “A Tale of Two Conferences: Globalization, the Crisis of Neoliberalism and Question of the Commons.” Borderlands, 11:2 (2012).

Michael Goldman. Privatizing Nature: Political struggles for the global commons. Chapter 1. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998.

Week 8
Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen and Maria Mies. The Subsistence Perspective. Chapter 6, “Defending, Reclaiming, and Reinventing the Commons.” Zed Books, 1999.

James McCarthy. “Commons as Counter-Hegemonic Project.” Capitalism Nature Socialism, 16:1 (March 2005).

Week 9
J.K. Gibson-Graham. A Postcapitalist Politics. Chapter 5, “The Community Economy.” University of Minnesota Press, 2006.