An alternative history of capitalist urbanization through the lens of the commons
Characterized by shared, self-managed access to food, housing, and the basic conditions for a creative life, the commons are essential for communities to flourish and protect spaces of collective autonomy from capitalist encroachment. In a narrative spanning more than three centuries, Against the Commons provides a radical counterhistory of urban planning that explores how capitalism and spatial politics have evolved to address this challenge.
Highlighting episodes from preindustrial England, New York City and Chicago between the 1850s and the early 1900s, Weimar-era Berlin, and neoliberal Milan, Álvaro Sevilla-Buitrago shows how capitalist urbanization has eroded the egalitarian, convivial life-worlds around the commons. The book combines detailed archival research with provocative critical theory to illuminate past and ongoing struggles over land, shared resources, public space, neighborhoods, creativity, and spatial imaginaries.
Against the Commons underscores the ways urbanization shapes the social fabric of places and territories, lending particular awareness to the impact of planning and design initiatives on working-class communities and popular strata. Projecting history into the future, it outlines an alternative vision for a postcapitalist urban planning, one in which the structure of collective spaces is ultimately defined by the people who inhabit them.
Architectures of Hope examines how communal idealism, electoral politics, and low-income consumer markets made first-time homeownership a reality for millions of low-income Brazilians over the last ten years.
Drawing on a five-year-long ethnography among city planners, architects, street-level bureaucrats, politicians, market and bank representatives, community leaders, and past, present, and future beneficiaries, Moisés Kopper tells the story of how a group of grassroots housing activists rose from oblivion to build a model community. He explores the strategies set forth by housing activists as they waited and hoped for—and eventually secured—homeownership through Minha Casa Minha Vida’s public-private infrastructure. By showing how these efforts coalesced in Porto Alegre—Brazil’s once progressive hotspot—he interrogates the value systems and novel arrangements of power and market that underlie the country’s post-neoliberal project of modern and inclusive development.
By chronicling the making and remaking of material hope in the aftermath of Minha Casa Minha Vida, Architectures of Hope reopens the future as a powerful venue for ethnographic inquiry and urban development.
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