Economies of Commoning

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= project and article


= "A practice-based research exploring spaces of commoning and caring as postcapitalist praxis".


A feminist approach of embodied criticality:

"This research is an activist one and inherently collaborative, and therefore implies an emergent methodology that takes into consideration the possible transformations that evolve through my interaction with the neighbourhood and its possible stakeholders. By choosing my own living environment for this inquiry, I am already immersed in the research context and can take up an approach of ‘embodied criticality’, inspired by Iris Rogoff’s ideas on how meaning is produced differently when living through things through the various relations being generated. What I find particularly inspiring about her approach is that it “brings together that being studied and those doing the studying, in an indelible unity” (Rogoff, 2006), allowing a collective process of experience and experimentation through which meaning is generated. This allows the production of knowledge that feminist theorist Donna Haraway describes as “situated knowledges”, assuming that knowledges are always generated from a specific viewpoint and therefore cannot be objective, in order to engage in a collective process of knowledge production. This approach also takes a critical stance towards the construction of truth through seemingly neutral knowledge produced from dominant Western viewpoints.

Furthermore, my research is practice-based and reflexive, which implies theory constantly being informed by practice and the other way around. This comes with certain ethical issues that need to be addressed and acknowledged: what are my changing roles and can they be separated from each other? How am I informing others involved in this research, and how flexible are the lines circumscribing it? As such, my collective practice (Common(s)Lab) is based on a participatory action-research approach, as it takes shape as a collective platform for communal action, knowledge creation and social change."


Article / Conference Paper: Economies of commoning – new frameworks for citizen participation? Katharina Moebus . IASC Utrecht, 20178



“Initiatives and activists around the world are experimenting with alternatives to dominant forms of living to tackle pressing social and environmental problems. Several issues seem to reoccur for both engaged citizens and aspiring ones: the lack of time for sustained engagement, due to the mechanisms of the ‘market’, and other outer influences around us that shape the way we look at the world, such as culture, family, social networks, school and education. As a result, the transition to a more sustainable and just future seems difficult to achieve beyond rhetoric. To overcome these issues, many initiatives experiment with new economic frameworks based on the philosophy of the commons. Through practices of sharing, collaboration and cooperation, they interrogate the dominant cultural value systems of property and wage-motivated labour. The current international debates on the introduction of a basic income for all citizens opens up further questions on how we work, share, and live within our societies. This paper examines the potentials of emergent ‘economies of commoning’ to strengthen urban communities, reconstruct the commons, and support neighbourhood participation. Taking previous interviews with activists and case studies conducted for the co-edited book Agents of Alternatives – Re-designing Our Realities and own experiences with community initiatives in Helsinki and Berlin as a starting point for analysis, this paper looks in more detail at two cases concerned with the basic income: the German crowdfunding experiment ‘Mein Grundeinkommen’1 (My Basic Income) and the Swiss cultural initiative ‘Grundeinkommen’2 (Basic Income). As a theoretical framework for this analysis, I investigate and draw together relational theories about the ‘commons’, ‘community economies’, and the ‘ecommony’ (an economy based on the commons and care) by feminist authors such as Silvia Federici, Maria Mies and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen, J.K. Gibson-Graham and Friederike Habermann. Finally, the paper argues for an increase in ‘time wealth’ as a result of these economies, offering the necessary mental and physical spaces for citizens to become engaged in more meaningful ways with society to move towards a more just and ecological future. “