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Accepted Contribution:

Aegean/Appalachian Comparisons: Commoning and Enclosures in Marginalized Mountain Communities  
Kathryn Newfont (University of Kentucky)

Contribution short abstract:

This paper compares contemporary enclosures in Ikaria, Greece to historic enclosures in the Appalachian mountains of the eastern United States. Extraction in both locales belittled and threatened longstanding commoning communities and undermined human well-being and more-than-human ecologies.

Contribution long abstract:

With an emphasis on forests, waters, and human communities, this paper compares commoning and enclosure threats in contemporary Ikaria, Greece with historic cases in the Appalachian region of the United States. Like Ikaria, the Appalachians host some of the globe’s most unique forests. As in Ikaria, commoning communities have long nurtured and protected these forests and the waters they hold. Also as at Ikaria, the searches for energy sources and wood products threatened commons forests and their human communities with extraction, enclosure, and livelihood destruction.

Fossil fuel and wood extraction destroyed nearly all the Appalachian region’s old-growth forests near the turn of the twentieth century. In the pell-mell race for short-term fuel and fiber, extractivism in the Appalachians set in motion long-term destructive forces that continue to undermine human well-being and more-than-human ecologies in the present-day. While commoning communities emphasized the enduring value of healthy forests and clean waters, advocates for extraction dismissed those values and denigrated local people. Cataclysmic destruction, in the forms of uncontrollable fires, unprecedented flooding, desertification, species loss, great human suffering, and a host of other ills resulted.

Appalachian examples underscore 1) the longterm ecological, economic, social, and cultural value of complex commoning systems such as those in Ikaria; and 2) the costly, enduring results of devaluing such commoning communities. Through commoning and commons defense, marginalized people such as Ikarians in Europe and Appalachians in the U.S. do the vital and unsung work of ecological caregiving. Without it there can be no green future.

Roundtable RT07
Methodologies of the commons toward/in green transitions: Uncommoning, knowledge commons and social justice
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -