URBAN COMMONS IN THE NEOLIBERAL GLOBAL ORDER: COMMONING AS COUNTERACTION
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2016
The proposition of this paper presents Urban Commoning as a counteraction to the current global trend of capitalism and its neo-liberal urbanism. In the face of radical dispossession and marginalisation that is accompanying global urbanisation, we are experiencing the negative logic of ‘privatisation’ with its public appropriations of exclusionary and dispossessive ‘fencing off’ of ‘new urban enclosures’. The resultant calls to replace the extractive and exclusionary logic of the city with a generative and inclusive ordering has been responded to in the notion of the commons and complementary practices of commoning as counter to this conflict.
The urban commons is posited as a means of transforming the urban. By expanding the notion of the commons a new inclusiveness and normative approach can be established. However, in order to understand the commons as a possible just and inclusive urban order, we view it as inhabiting the intermediate space between imposed and popular change. We attempt to excavate from real life urban commons valuable lessons from their emergence, maintenance and transference; contributing toward a new urban episteme.
These explorations are grounded in the case of Cape Town, South Africa and the experience of capitalism’s different phases – early colonial, apartheid and post-apartheid – demonstrating consistently reproduced patterns of spatial segregation for the vast majority of its ‘non-white’ population. Urban commoning has historically existed in different forms but recently found renewed emergence in response to urban enclosuring.
Located within this context and re-conceptualised through a more inclusive notion of the commons, this essay identifies background details of the empirical case by describing the legacy of capitalist exclusion and enclosures in Cape Town, followed by an account of historical commoning practices in the city. The essay concludes by locating some main findings from the real life cases of emergent communing, reflecting on the transformative potential of urban commons.
Language of the Becoming City