Games of Chance in the Production of the Urban Commons

Presentation in the context of the 116th American Anthropological Annual meeting in Washington D.C. as part of a double panel on Urban Ethnographies of Commoning, organized and chaired by  Güldem Baykal Büyüksaraç and  Derya Özkan

 

 

Washington, DC, November 29th, 2:15-4:00 

Location: Marriott, Thurgood Marshall South

 

Description: 

This panel aims to bring into conversation ethnographic case studies on forms of urban living created through acts of commoning –spaces imagined and lived as urban commons, belonging to no one and everyone.

We aim to reflect upon urban inhabitants’ commoning practices that produce and reproduce life in the city for the sake of cultivating a new ethos to sustain livelihoods and affirm communal instincts beyond motivations of profit, competition, and wealth spared for individual well-being at the expense of others. We would like to explore everyday cultures of commoning that rely on alternative socio-spatial relations. It is our aim to take a close look at urban inhabitants’ quotidian practices, be they work, reproductive labor, or leisure and festivity, that make our spaces in common despite (and in the midst of) capitalist social relationships.

Everyday acts of commoning materialize within the cracks of the capitalist system and potentially create new life-forms. We treasure such practices of commoning, for they not only reveal urban inhabitants’ capacity to make the city but they also imply a radical will to remake ourselves and our lives by way of reorganizing our everyday lives, living spaces, redefining forms of production and labor, developing new means of livelihood, and in turn reminding us every day that we all inhabit a common life-world.

We would like to highlight both achievements and drawbacks. We dwell on the emancipatory potentials of commoning practices, as well as the incomplete or conflicting processes and incompatibilities they inhabit. We focus on cases of urban commoning while keeping an eye on their continuous enclosures.

What are some of the ways in which we can imagine and sustain our ongoing everyday lives as a locus of commoning? What kinds of sensibilities and perspectives (for instance a feminist perspective) can we incorporate into our understanding of urban commons?

This panel aims to discuss these questions by bringing together ethnographic case studies from different urban contexts, to discuss alternative forms of production, consumption, exchange, and sociality, all relying on practices of commoning as their major resource.