Arkiv för September, 2015

Welcome to Commons and Commodities

Postad i kategorin: The Basics den 28 September, 2015

Here you can follow the research project Commons and Commodities: Knowledge, Natural resources and the Construction of Property as it progresses over the following four years. When the project is finished, by the end of 2018, we hope to have contributed to the knowledge of how commonly used resources, such as information, culture, biological substances and land, are propertized and commodified. By propertized we refer to a process where resources that have previously been common and free for all to use are redefined into private property that can be claimed and controlled by designated owners. Commodification refers to how this property is turned into commodities that can be bought and sold. These two processes are sometimes, but not always, coexistent. The process of propertization is often followed by commodification, but it can also exist without a commercial interest, for instance as a means to safeguard and maintain resources against exploitation under the protection that property rights offer.

Conflicting definitions over resources as either common or private are acted out in many different contexts. The debates over digital piracy is one such area where copyright holders se file sharing as an act of theft of their immaterial property while ideologically driven file sharers often motivate it as an act of communication where culture and information are seen as common resources, freely shared between peers. Conflicts over mining projects on indigenous land is another example where mining companies see it as their right to extract, propertize and commodify natural resources that might be located in areas that have traditionally been used more or less collectively by indigenous people, for grazing land, foraging or for cultural or ritual purposes.

These are complex issues, that are often reduced to simplified oppositions. We want to avoid simplifications, which is why we will take four years to ponder the relation between commons and commodities. In these four year we plan to conduct three separate but intertwined studies. The first concerns the enclosure of the Information Commons through the expansion of intellectual property rights. It looks at EU’s and Australia’s signing and cancelled ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in 2012. The second concerns Biopiracy: how companies patent traditional knowledge, for instance concerning the medical use of herbs and plants, which has previously been commonly used among indigenous groups. This is exemplified through EU’s and Australia’s signing of the The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. The third concerns Environmental Commons: how natural resources, generally perceived as common land, are appropriated by corporations. It focuses on local cases where mining projects on indigenous land in Scandinavia and Australia have provoked resistance from local people.

The project will be conducted by me and my colleague Johanna Dahlin and runs between 2015 and 2018. It is finances by an International Career Grant/Marie Curie Fellowship from the Swedish National Research Council and based at the department for Culture Studies at Linköping University, Sweden, but will partly be conducted in Australia and the Netherlands. As I’m writing this I’m sitting on a plane to Sydney, looking forward to connecting with the Institute for Culture and Society at University Of Western Sydney which will be one of the host departments, alongside the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam.

Much more can said about Commons and Commodities, and I can promise that much more will be said on this blog in the following four years. So if you think that this might be just a little bit interesting, but can’t really make out where it’s heading – please bear with us and bookmark this website. In the coming months we will get back to you with frequent updates where we hope to begin to unravel what we mean when we talk about issues such as commons, property, mining and biopiracy. In due time we will also publish tentative results from the fieldworks we are beginning to undertake in late 2015. This blog will thus gradually evolve into an archive presenting a growing body of new empirical and theoretical knowledge on the relations between Commons and Commodities and the construction of property.

Martin Fredriksson


Du tittar just nu i Commons and commoditiess arkiv för September, 2015.

Commons and Commodities

Commons and Commodities
Commons and Commodities är ett forskningsprojekt som undersöker hur gemensamma resurser, allmänningar, avgränsas och inhägnas – och det motstånd sådana processer möter. Vi studerar hur olika typer av allmänningar – både materiella och immateriella – på olika sätt privatiseras och inhägnas och hur detta påverkar de som brukar dem. Vi som skriver här heter Johanna Dahlin och Martin Fredriksson.

Common and Commodities is a research project which asks if, and how, the commons are rearticulated and enclosed as property. It aims to provide new knowledge about how different kinds of common resources are enclosed and commodified as private property, and how this affects those who use and manage those commons. Johanna Dahlin and Martin Fredriksson are writing.

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