1st Edition

Capitalism and the Commons Just Commons in the Era of Multiple Crises

Edited By Andreas Exner, Sarah Kumnig, Stephan Hochleithner Copyright 2021
    214 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Capitalism and the Commons focuses on the political and social perspectives that commons offer, how they are appropriated or suppressed by capital and state, and how social initiatives and movements contest these dynamics or build their struggles on commoning.

    The volume comprises theoretical and empirical approaches that engage with three main themes: conceptualizing the commons, analyzing practices of commoning, and exploring commons politics. In their contributions, the authors focus on the development of anti-capitalist commons and explore the issue of practice and politics through case studies from Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Africa more broadly, Austria, Germany and South Korea, ranging from peri-urban and rural agriculture to urban commons and how they manifest in the Global South as well as in the Global North. The book engages with different discourses on the commons in regard to their relevance for social change and thereby reinvigorates the political meaning of the commons. It provides an original and important approach to the topic in terms of conceptualization, detailing diverse empirical realities, and analyzing potential perspectives. In so doing, the book transcends narrow disciplinary boundaries and expands the focus to the global.

    Providing a fresh perspective on the commons as a decisive component of alternatives, this title will be relevant to scholars and students of resource management, social movements, and sustainable development more broadly.


    1. Expanding the Scope: The Commons Within and Beyond Capitalism in Crisis
    Andreas Exner, Stephan Hochleithner, Sarah Kumnig

    2. Towards the Commons through the Gift
    Andreas Exner


    3. Commoning Land Access: Collective Purchase and Squatting of Agricultural Lands in Germany and Austria
    Sarah Kumnig and Marit Rosol

    4. "We don’t eat flowers" –Spatial Empowerment and Commons in Peri-urban Agroecological Networks as Answer to Socio-ecological Conflicts in Colombia
    Birgit Hoinle

    5. Women’s Struggles for Land in Africa and the Reconstruction of the Commons
    Silvia Federici

    6. War and the Commons: Enclosures and Capitalist Mobilization of Spatial Configurations in Course of Armed Conflict –the Case of North Kivu, DRC.
    Stephan Hochleithner


    7. Urban Undercommons: Solidarities Before and Beyond the National Imaginary
    Niki Kubaczek and Sheri Avraham

    8. Cracking Territorial Commons –the Gongyuji Movement in Seoul, South Korea
    Yoonai Han and Seon Young Lee


    9. Public-Common Partnerships, Autogestion, and the Right to the City.
    Keir Milburn and Bertie Russell

    10. South African Commoning, Cooperatives, and Eco-socialist Potentials in the Context of COVID-19
    Patrick Bond and Meron Okbandrias


    11. Liberating the Commons by Commoning Commons Research: The Enclosure of Reality and the Systematization of Experience
    Barbara Stefan and Andreas Exner

    12. Disengaging Capitalism: A Polyphonic Conclusion
    Andreas Exner, Stephan Hochleithner, Sarah Kumnig


    Andreas Exner, RCE Graz-Styria, Centre for Sustainable Social Transformation, University of Graz, Austria.

    Sarah Kumnig, Institute for Sociology and Social Research, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria.

    Stephan Hochleithner, Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

    "The 'commons' is our talisman as we move into the 21st century seeking to replace abstract social control with grounded social reciprocity. In this book, many dimensions of the commons are explored - from Ostrom's rational choice approach to insights from Mauss' gift economy, and rich case studies from Colombia to South Africa. The editors have assembled a deeply reflective anthology, opening up new meanings of the commons idea."Ariel Salleh, Writer, Activist and founding member of Capitalism Nature Socialism

    "The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically exposed the multiple, long term and interconnected crises of contemporary capitalism. On this grim canvas, Capitalism and the Commons provides a fresh, innovative and wide-ranging set of contributions offering a new vision of changes, and ways to scale the walls of an edifice tottering on the brink of planetary collapse. At the heart of the book is the commons as a powerful vehicle of self-organization, protest, and alternatives to capitalism. A book from which we can learn and take heart."Michael Watts, Class of 63 Professor Emeritus, University of California Berkeley

    "This volume, approaching "commons" as a practice; as "[…] a way of worldmaking that has the potential to overcome capitalism, patriarchy, racism, and many other forms of social domination", brings together a rich collection of papers that captures the epistemological, theoretical and methodological dimensions of studying the commons (and commoning) and brings together interesting and inspiring case studies about social change and resistance. A must-read for students and scholars interested in capitalism and the commons, political ecology, resistance and protest, but also for academics more generally interested in engaged scholarship."Elisabet Dueholm Rasch, Associate Professor in Anthropology of Development, Wageningen University and Research