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Uncommon commons: value, hope, and transformations in high altitudes and high latitudes 
Lisa Francesca Rail (University of Vienna)
Susanna Gartler (Austrian Polar Research InstituteUniversity of Vienna)
Wolfgang Kraus (University of Vienna)
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Old Physics Building, Emeleus Lecture Theatre
Thursday 28 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

Land commons shaped by subsistence practices in high altitudes and high latitudes (e.g. hunting, fishing or mobile pastoralism) face economic and ecological pressure in both (Sub)Arctic and mountainous areas. We explore the role of well-being, value, and identity in these commons' persistence.

Long Abstract:

We invite papers exploring how collective care for land, agroecology, atmospheric carbon reduction, and food sovereignty become entangled with well-being, culture, and identity. Regionally, we encourage contributions dealing with - but not limited to - transforming Indigenous lands in the (Sub-)Arctic and mountainous areas. We combine our research sites in the Yukon, the Austrian Alp, and the Moroccan High Atlas to reflect on future well-being on thawing permafrost in high altitudes and latitudes through commonalities in the non-capitalist circulation of value on common lands. These regions are sites of expansive stretches of forests, grassland, and tundra used by communities for foraging and mobile pastoralism. Collective stewardship is not a common form of property relations in Canada, Austria, nor Morocco, yet, in those sites the tenacity of common lands is explained and cherished in terms of value, tradition, culture, and identity - not as radical (economic) alterity. Subsistence practices play a major role in sustaining a good life in arctic and alpine regions. In both, however, food security is under ecological pressure from climate changes as well as under economic pressure from industrialized agriculture and by the mining and tourism sector. At the same time, in political discourse these accustomed subsistence strategies are recurrently deemed 'uneconomic'. Countering this, we hold that in the commons value is generated not through market mechanisms but oriented towards non-alienated maintenance, gift giving, and sharing. Moreover, these thick cultural landscapes can be carriers of hopes for sustainable societies in regions otherwise rendered 'unfavorably remote and inhospitable'.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -