This CFP welcomes papers critically analyzing the complementary politics of global capital accumulation, ecological crisis, and urban value struggles in the Anthropocene, understanding each as inherently social and mutually constitutive. We follow the work of Robert Biel (2012, 2016), Massimo De Angelis (2007, 2017), Silvia Federici (2012), Maria Mies (1986), Jason W. Moore (2015), and others whose research and activism has aided our understanding of capital’s acceleration of ecological crisis and its corresponding influence upon urban social movements globally. We hope to create a provisional common space for horizontal dialog to examine the challenges presented by our unique historical-geographical conjuncture.
Capital’s extraction of environmental resources, enclosures of environmental commons, violent dispossessions and displacements of human and non-human populations, imperialist wars, and the appropriation of cultural boundaries and borders spawn radical reorganizations of everyday life. In response, movements of resistance undergo processes of composition and adaptive recomposition within global cycles and circuits of struggle (De Angelis 2007). The unemployed workers’ movements in Argentina (Mason-Deese 2016), the experiments in democratic autonomy in Syrian Kurdistan (Knapp, Flach, & Ayboga 2016), and the emergent participatory democracy and solidarity economy of Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi (Akuno & Nangwaya 2017) all point to counter-histories and counter-geographies of common struggles on the neoliberal urban terrain. These instances are not isolated, but emerge in response to the decomposition of prior cycles and circuits of struggle, and rely upon common networks and ecologies.
In the urbanized world, contemporary cities are organized as central arenas for the growth of global capitalism. The metropolitan center represents a conspicuous terrain of accumulation, enclosure, appropriation, and capitalist forms of social reproduction that extend into each sector of everyday life, establishing hierarchies of domination both within and beyond city boundaries. The center-periphery relations established by neoliberal global networks constitute an extractive center - the urban metropolis - reliant upon the exploitation of peripheral rural agricultural communities who are forced to endure the enclosure or destruction of the commons, and simultaneously their means of subsistence and social reproduction (Biel 2012, Harvey 2012). In turn, the city center becomes both victim and beneficiary of a new petromodernity, constituted through processes of extraction, refinement, and global distribution of petroleum products as well as subsidized goods and services including but not limited to agriculture, transportation, healthcare, and housing, with resistance movements often focusing on transforming access to these petromodern goods and services (Huber 2013). On the other hand, “capitalist urbanization perpetually tends to destroy the city as a social, political and livable commons” (Harvey 2012: 80), creating the potentiality for spaces of autonomous social reproduction which simultaneously embody alternative social systems beyond the state, and face the threat of co-optation through capital parasitizing upon people’s grassroots survival strategies (Biel 2016: 108-124).
Our aim is to assess the extent to which grassroots urban social movements critique and reorganize ecologies, recognizing that today’s “fightback will involve a rediscovery and generalization of commons, and in fact is already doing so.” (Biel 2016: 119) We invite papers that explore social and material ecologies, urban social movements, and transnational networks that anticipate or raise questions about the politics, methodologies, and implications of alternative modes of socio-ecological (re)production in the Anthropocene.
Possible themes for papers include:
Urban commons, common networks, and practices of commoning such as collective housing, autonomous spaces, occupations, squatting, guerrilla gardening, and micro-industries.
Social reproduction in the global city; the city as “social factory.”
Migrant labor in the neoliberal city.
Food sovereignty, agroecology, indigenous agricultural production systems, and the question of an autonomous commons regime.
Self-organizing biophysical and social systems as emergent systems; experiments in “autonomist ecologies” where urban space is reappropriated in common to create complex self-organizing ecologies; self-organization within disaster communities.
Narratives and critiques of communal resiliency; commons regimes as resilient systems; tensions of radical possibility and systemic co-optation.
Please submit an abstract (no more than 300 words) to both Caitlin Cunningham (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Patrick Korte (email@example.com) by November 20th.
Akuno, Kali & Ajamu Nangwaya (Eds.). 2017. Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson, MS: Daraja Press.
Biel, Robert. 2012. The Entropy of Capitalism. Chicago: Haymarket Books.
Biel, Robert. 2016. Sustainable Food Systems: The Role of the City. London: UCL Press.
De Angelis, Massimo. 2007. The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital. London: Pluto Press.
De Angelis, Massimo. 2017. Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons and the Transformation to Postcapitalism. London: Zed Books.
Federici, Silvia. 2012. Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle. Oakland, CA: PM Press.
Mason-Deese, Liz. (2016). “Unemployed Workers' Movements and the Territory of Social Reproduction.” Journal of Resistance Studies, 2 (2): 65-99.
Harvey, David. 2012. Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. London: Verso.
Huber, Matthew T. 2013. Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Knapp, M., Flach, A., & Ayboga, E. 2016. Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women’s Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan. London: Pluto Press.
Mies, Maria. 1986. Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labor. London: Zed Books.
Moore, Jason W. 2015. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. London: Verso.
Stavrides, Stavros. 2016. Common Space: The City as Commons. London: Zed Books.