What do a feminist server, an art space located in a public park in North London, a so-called pirate library of high cultural value yet dubious legal status, and an art school that emphasizes collectivity have in common? They all demonstrate that art plays an important role in imagining and producing a real quite different from what is currently hegemonic, and that art has the possibility to not only envision or proclaim ideas in theory, but also to realize them materially.
Aesthetics of the Commons examines a series of artistic and cultural projects—drawn from what can loosely be called the (post)digital—that take up this challenge in different ways. What unites them, however, is that they all have a double character. They are art in the sense that they place themselves in relation to (Western) cultural and art systems, developing discursive and aesthetic positions, but, at the same time, they are operational in that they create recursive environments and freely available resources whose uses exceed these systems. The first aspect raises questions about the kind of aesthetics that are being embodied, the second creates a relation to the larger concept of the commons. In Aesthetics of the Commons, the commons are understood not as a fixed set of principles that need to be adhered to in order to fit a definition, but instead as a thinking tool—in other words, the book’s interest lies in what can be made visible by applying the framework of the commons as a heuristic device.
One of the most pressing concerns of environmentalists and policy makers is the overexploitation of natural resources. Efforts to regulate such resources are too often undermined by the people whose livelihoods depend on their use. One of the great challenges for wildlife managers in the twenty-first century is learning to create the conditions under which people will erect effective and workable rules to conserve those resources. James M. Acheson, author of the best-selling Lobster Gangs of Maine (the seminal work on the culture and economics of lobster fishing), here turns his attention to the management of the lobster industry. In this illuminating new book, he shows that resource degradation is not inevitable. Indeed, the Maine lobster fishery is one of the most successful fisheries in the world. Catches have been stable since World War II, and record highs have been achieved since the late 1980s. According to Acheson, these high catches are due, in part, to the institutions generated by the lobster-fishing industry to control fishing practices. These rules are effective. Rational choice theory frames Acheson’s down-to-earth study. Rational choice theorists believe that the overexploitation of marine resources stems from their common-pool nature, which results in collective action problems. In fisheries, what is rational for the individual fishermen can lead to disaster for the society. The progressive Maine lobster industry, lobster fishermen, and local groups have solved a series of such problems by creating three different sets of regulations: informal territorial rules; rules to control the number of traps; and formal conservation legislation. In recent years, the industry has successfully influenced new regulations at the federal level and has developed a strong co-management system with the Maine government. The process of developing these rules has been quite acrimonious; factions of fishermen have disagreed over lobster rules designed to give commercial advantage to one group or another. Although fishermen and scientists have come to share a conservation ethic, they often disagree over how to best conserve the lobster and even the quality of science. The importance of Capturing the Commons is twofold: it provides a case study of the management of one highly successful fishery, which can serve as a management model for policy makers, politicians, and local communities; and it adds to the body of theory concerning the conditions under which people will and will not devise institutions to manage natural resources.
An investigation of the practice of “commoning” in urban housing and its necessity for challenging economic injustice in our rapidly gentrifying cities
Provoked by mass evictions and the onset of gentrification in the 1970s, tenants in Washington, D.C., began forming cooperative organizations to collectively purchase and manage their apartment buildings. These tenants were creating a commons, taking a resource—housing—that had been used to extract profit from them and reshaping it as a resource that was collectively owned by them.
In Carving Out the Commons, Amanda Huron theorizes the practice of urban “commoning” through a close investigation of the city’s limited-equity housing cooperatives. Drawing on feminist and anticapitalist perspectives, Huron asks whether a commons can work in a city where land and other resources are scarce and how strangers who may not share a past or future come together to create and maintain commonly held spaces in the midst of capitalism. Arguing against the romanticization of the commons, she instead positions the urban commons as a pragmatic practice. Through the practice of commoning, she contends, we can learn to build communities to challenge capitalism’s totalizing claims over life.
Among the greatest challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century is that of sustaining a healthy civil society, which depends upon managing the tension between individual and collective interests. Bruce R. Sievers explores this issue by investigating ways to balance the public and private sides of modern life in a manner that allows realization of the ideal of individual freedom and, at the same time, makes possible the effective pursuit of the common good. He traces the development of civil society from the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic and the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment, analyzes its legacy for modern political life, and explores how historical trends in the formation of civil society and philanthropy aid or impede our achievement of public goods in the modern era.
The British Parliament rewards close scrutiny not just for the sake of democracy, but also because the surprises it contains challenge our understanding of British politics. Commons and Lords pulls back the curtain on both the upper House of Lords and the lower House of Commons to examine their unexpected inner workings.
Based on fieldwork within both Houses, this volume in the Haus Curiosities series provides a surprising twist in how relationships in each play out. The high social status of peers in the House of Lords gives the impression of hierarchy and, more specifically, patriarchy. In contrast, the House of Commons conjures impressions of equality and fairness between members. But actual observation reveals the opposite: while the House of Lords has an egalitarian and cooperative ethos that is also supportive of female members, the competitive and aggressive House of Commons is a far less comfortable place for women. Offering many surprises and secrets, this book exposes the sheer oddity of the British parliament system.
The road to sustainable forest management and stewardship has been debated for decades. Some advocate for governmental control and oversight. Some say that the only way to stem the tide of deforestation is to place as many tracts as possible under strict protection. Caught in the middle of this debate, forest inhabitants of the developing world struggle to balance the extraction of precarious livelihoods from forests while responding to increasing pressures from national governments, international institutions, and their own perceptions of environmental decline to protect biodiversity, restore forests, and mitigate climate change.
Mexico presents a unique case in which much of the nation’s forests were placed as commons in the hands of communities, who, with state support and their own entrepreneurial vigor, created community forest enterprises (CFEs). David Barton Bray, who has spent more than thirty years engaged with and researching Mexican community forestry, shows that this reform has transformed forest management in that country at a scale and level of maturity unmatched anywhere else in the world.
For decades Mexico has been conducting a de facto large-scale experiment in the design of a national social-ecological system (SES) focused on community forests. What happens when you give subsistence communities rights over forests, as well as training, organizational support, equipment, and financial capital? Do the communities destroy the forest in the name of economic development, or do they manage them sustainably, generating current income while maintaining intergenerational value as a resource for their children? Bray shares the scientific and social evidence that can now begin to answer these questions. This is an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and the interested public on the future of global forest resilience and the possibilities for a good Anthropocene.
Nature for Sale uncovers the rich heritage of common ownership which existed before the dominance of capitalist property relations. Giovanna Ricoveri argues that the subsistence commons of the past can be reinvented today to provide an alternative to the current destructive economic order.
Ricoveri outlines the distinct features of common ownership as it has existed in history: cooperation, sustainable use of natural resources and decision-making through direct democracy. In doing so, she shows how it is possible to provide goods and services which are not commodities exchanged on the capitalistic market, something still demonstrated today in village communities across the global South.
Tracing the erosion of the commons from the European enclosures at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution to the new enclosures of modern capitalism, the book concludes by arguing that a new commons is needed today. It will be essential reading for activists as well as students and academics in history, politics, economics and development studies.
Who owns tidal waters? Are oyster beds common holdings or private property? Questions first raised in colonial New Jersey helped shape American law by giving rise to the public trust doctrine. Today that concept plays a critical role in public advocacy and environmental law.
Bonnie McCay now puts that doctrine in perspective by tracing the history of attempts to defend common resources against privatization. She tells of conflicts in New Jersey communities over the last two centuries: how fishermen dependent on common-use rights employed poaching, piracy, and test cases to protect their stake in tidal resources, and how oyster planters whose businesses depended on the enclosure of marine commons engineered test cases of their own to seek protection for their claims.
McCay presents some of the most significant cases relating to fishing and waterfront development, describing how the oyster wars were fought on the waters and in the court rooms—and how the public trust doctrine was sometimes reinterpreted to support private interests. She explores the events and people behind the proceedings and addresses the legal, social, and ecological issues these cases represent.
Oyster Wars and the Public Trust is an important study of contested property rights from an anthropological perspective that also addresses significant issues in political ecology, institutional economics, environmental history, and the evolution of law. It contributes to our understanding of how competing claims to resources have evolved in the United States and shows that making nature a commodity remains a moral problem even in a market-driven economy.
Commons -- lands, waters, and resources that are not legally owned and controlled by a single private entity, such as ocean and coastal areas, the atmosphere, public lands, freshwater aquifers, and migratory species -- are an increasingly contentious issue in resource management and international affairs.Protecting the Commons provides an important analytical framework for understanding commons issues and for designing policies to deal with them. The product of a symposium convened by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) to mark the 30th anniversary of Garrett Hardin's seminal essay “The Tragedy of the Commons” the book brings together leading scholars and researchers on commons issues to offer both conceptual background and analysis of the evolving scientific understanding on commons resources. The book: gives a concise update on commons use and scholarship offers eleven case studies of commons, examined through the lens provided by leading commons theorist Elinor Ostrom provides a review of tools such as Geographic Information Systems that are useful for decision-making examines environmental justice issues relevant to commons .Contributors include Alpina Begossi, William Blomquist, Joanna Burger, Tim Clark, Clark Gibson, Michael Gelobter, Michael Gochfeld, Bonnie McCay, Pamela Matson, Richard Norgaard, Elinor Ostrom, David Policansky, Jeffrey Richey, Jose Sarukhan, and Edella Schlager.Protecting the Commons represents a landmark study of commons issues that offers analysis and background from economic, legal, social, political, geological, and biological perspectives. It will be essential reading for anyone concerned with commons and commons resources, including students and scholars of environmental policy and economics, public health, international affairs, and related fields.
This collection of eighteen original essays evaluates the use and misuse of common-property resources, taking as its starting point ecologist Garret Hardin's assertion in "The Tragedy of the Commons" that common property is doomed to overexploitation in any society. This book represents the first cross-cultural test of Hardin's argument and argues that, while tragedies of the commons do occur under some circumstances, local institutions have proven resilient and responsive to the problems of communal resource use.
This penetrating work culls key concepts from grassroots activism to hold critical social theory accountable to the needs, ideas, and organizational practices of the global justice movement. The resulting critique of neoliberalism hinges on place-based struggles of groups marginalized by globalization and represents a brave rethinking of politics, economy, culture, and professionalism.
Providing new practical and conceptual tools for responding to human and environmental crises in Appalachia and beyond, Recovering the Commons radically revises the framework of critical social thought regarding our stewardship of the civic and ecological commons. Herbert Reid and Betsy Taylor ally social theory, field sciences, and local knowledge in search of healthy connections among body, place, and commons that form a basis for solidarity as well as a vital infrastructure for a reliable, durable world. Drawing particularly on the work of philosophers Maurice Merleau-Ponty, John Dewey, and Hannah Arendt, the authors reconfigure social theory by ridding it of the aspects that reduce place and community to sets of interchangeable components. Instead, they reconcile complementary pairs such as mind/body and society/nature in the reclamation of public space.
With its analysis embedded in philosophical and material contexts, this penetrating work culls key concepts from grassroots activism to hold critical social theory accountable to the needs, ideas, and organizational practices of the global justice movement. The resulting critique of neoliberalism hinges on place-based struggles of groups marginalized by globalization and represents a brave rethinking of politics, economy, culture, and professionalism.
The Squatters' Movement in Europe is the first definitive guide to squatting as an alternative to capitalism. It offers a unique insider's view on the movement – its ideals, actions and ways of life. At a time of growing crisis in Europe with high unemployment, dwindling social housing and declining living standards, squatting has become an increasingly popular option.
The book is written by an activist-scholar collective, whose members have direct experience of squatting: many are still squatters today. There are contributions from the Netherlands, Spain, the USA, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
In an age of austerity and precarity this book shows what has been achieved by this resilient social movement, which holds lessons for policy-makers, activists and academics alike.
Winner, Best Social Sciences Book (Latin American Studies Association, Mexico Section)
What happens to indigenous people when their homelands are declared by well-intentioned outsiders to be precious environmental habitats? In this revelatory book, Molly Doane describes how a rain forest in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca was appropriated and redefined by environmentalists who initially wanted to conserve its biodiversity. Her case study approach shows that good intentions are not always enough to produce results that benefit both a habitat and its many different types of inhabitants.
Doane begins by showing how Chimalapas—translated as “shining rivers”—has been “produced” in various ways over time, from a worthless wasteland to a priceless asset. Focusing on a series of environmental projects that operated between 1990 and 2008, she reveals that environmentalists attempted to recast agrarian disputes—which actually stemmed from government-supported corporate incursions into community lands and from unequal land redistribution—as environmental problems.
Doane focuses in particular on the attempt throughout the 1990s to establish a “Campesino Ecological Reserve” in Chimalapas. Supported by major grants from the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), this effort to foster and merge agrarian and environmental interests was ultimately unsuccessful because it was seen as politically threatening by the state. By 2000, the Mexican government had convinced the WWF to redirect its conservation monies to the state government and its agencies.
The WWF eventually abandoned attempts to establish an “enclosure” nature reserve in the region or to gain community acceptance for conservation. Instead, working from a new market-based model of conservation, the WWF began paying cash to individuals for “environmental services” such as reforestation and environmental monitoring.
Trespassing, “a thoughtful, beautifully written addition to environmental and regional literature” (Kirkus Reviews), is a historical survey of the evolution of private ownership of land, concentrating on the various land uses of a 500-acre tract of land over a 350-year period. What began as wild land controlled periodically by various Native American tribes became British crown land after 1654, then private property under US law, and finally common land again in the late twentieth century. Mitchell considers every aspect of the important issue of land ownership and explores how our attitudes toward land have changed over the centuries.
Self-help groups have encountered fierce criticism as places where individuals join to share personal problems and to engage in therapeutic intervention without the aid of skilled professionals. These groups have flourished since the 1970s and continue to serve more people than professional therapy.
Yet these groups have been criticized as fostering a culture of whiners and victims, and not using professional help as needed. Thomasina Jo Borkman debunks this commonly held assessment, and also examines the reasons for these groups’ enduring popularity since the 1960s—more people attend these meetings (word?) than see professional therapists. What accounts for their success and popularity?
Understanding Self-Help / Mutual-Aid Groups is the first book to describe three stages of individual and group evolution that is part of this organization’s very structure; it also reconceptualizes participants’ interactions with professionals. The group as a whole, Borkman posits, draws on the life experiences of its membes to foster nurturing, support, and transformation through a “circle of sharing.” Groups create more positive and less stigmatizing “meaning perspectives” of the members’ problems than is available from professionals or lay folk culture.