Accepted paper:

Contested commons

Authors:

Maja Hojer Bruun (Aalborg University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the multiplicity and coexistence of different types of political, moral and legal claims to urban space, including the enactment of commons. The paper discusses two ethnographic cases of contemporary controversies over public space in Danish cities.

Paper long abstract:

Commons refer not only to material resources and physical space but also to social and cultural values, forms of governance and organization and anything that contributes to the material, social and cultural sustenance of communities, ranging from local communities to nations and global commons. While natural resource commons and commons in rural settings such as indigenous or tribal land and natural parks are well researched, we know very little about urban commons and the communities that produce them. All commons include some people and exclude others, and claims to urban commons usually coexist with other property regimes such as private property, public or state property. Moreover, urban spaces may be claimed as commons by several different communities at the same time and become sites of contested belonging and identification. Thus, urban commons are usually contested urban space. This paper focuses on the multiplicity and coexistence of different types of political, moral and legal claims to urban space, including the enactment of commons. The paper discusses two ethnographic cases of contemporary controversies over public space in Danish cities: The pulling down of housing blocks and reshaping of a large modernist social housing area that has been declared a ghetto by the Danish government and the current development of the alternative freetown of Christiania that began as squat in 1971 and was bought free from the state by the Christiania Fund in 2012.

panel P026
Governing urban commons