Commons languages (and the ecologies of care for the city)
(Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
Paper short abstract:
Three different genres used to invoke urban commons: dramatic, normative, and pedagogical. They evince the exploratory efforts to compose the languages that urban commons require to be brought into existence: Commons languages that bear witness to the emergence of an ecology of care for the city.
Paper long abstract:
Urban commons have become the emblem of all sorts of political struggles during the harsh period of economic crisis in Spain, especially in cities like Madrid and Barcelona although not exclusively. During a long fieldwork carried out in Madrid (2010-2015) I came across different sites and contexts where urban commons were invoked. Commons always appeared as concepts difficult to define and empirical object hard to delimitate. In this paper I identify three different domains relevant in shaping the debate and emergence of commons in Madrid: (i) avant-garde public institutions of the cultural sector (an art centre called Medialab-Prado), (ii) grassroots and urban activists (Red de Iniciativas Ciudadanas), (iii) and architectural guerrillas (Zuloark). In all these contexts, people thrived to speak about urban commons, exploring the conceptual vocabularies, representation genres and visual aesthetics required not only to speak but also to bring commons into existence. I will describe the different genres that were used in each of these sites: dramatic, normative, and pedagogical. Each of them was materialized in specific instances: seminar-like events organized by cultural producers; a legal code proposed by a loose activist initiative; and a number of manuals of instructions designed by architectural guerrillas. With these descriptions, first I seek to call the attention upon the kind of aesthetics and languages that urban commons require to be brought into existence, and second, despite their differences, I'll show that these commons languages bear witness to the emergence of an ecology of care for the city.
Alter-politics, commons and ethnographies for another world