Governing the Commons: A Global Perspective

Convenors: Christiaan Boonen and Nicolás Brando C.

KU Leuven

In the last few years political theory has increasingly turned to the concept of the (global) commons as a lens to look at the current processes of socioeconomic and political globalization. The earth’s environment is in danger of deteriorating, national borders enforced by sovereign states limit individual movement, a private property regime enables the enclosure of resources that are fundamental to everyone’s subsistence, and intellectual property rights restrict access to knowledge that could benefit the lives of many. In other words: the global commons are in danger of being appropriated and exhausted. However, more and more political theorists are beginning to question the validity and logic of both private property and state sovereignty. They are beginning to ask whether there are any alternative mechanisms that could promote a more just order. In the history of political theory the concept of (global) commons has been reflected upon by Locke, Kant and Marx (among many others), and both continental (Hardt and Negri, De Angelis or Dardot and Laval) and analytical theorists (Singer, Pogge, Steiner or Caney) have begun to use the concept of the (global) commons as an alternative framework to challenge the status quo. We believe that this shift allows us to revise deeply embedded liberal assumptions, restructure our current political and socioeconomic institutions, and, maybe, find alternatives that could lead to a more just society.

There has hardly been any contact between the analytic, the continental, and the historical literature on this subject. With this workshop, hence, we intend to bridge the gap between these philosophical perspectives, and open a space where we can reflect and debate together on how to deal with global issues through the framework of the global commons.

We are opening a call for abstracts (about 400-600 words) on all topics related to the global commons for the MANCEPT workshops on September 1-3, 2015. The deadline for submitting abstracts is MAY 24, 2015. We will inform you of our decision by the first week of June (this will give you some time to apply for the MANCEPT bursary). We would appreciate it if final papers can be sent to us by Mid-August, in order to distribute them to the other participants. We welcome, and greatly encourage, the submission of abstracts from both the analytical and continental fields. The topics include, but are not restricted to:

– Defining the (global) commons.

– Points of conflict and convergence on the commons in analytical and continental political theory.

– Discrepancies and distinctions between (global) commons and the common.

– The idea of the commons and the common in the history of political theory.

– The boundaries between private and common property.

– What should or should not be made common?

– Governing the (global) commons.

– Distribution of the benefits and burdens of the global commons.

– Democracy in governing the (global) commons.

– The conflict between local and global commons.

– Conflicts between the commons and national sovereignty (e.g. migration, natural resources).

– Conflicts between commons and capitalism.

– Global commons and intergenerational justice.

– (Global) commons and gender issues.

– The global commons and legal theory.

– Open Knowledge and the limits of intellectual property rights.

– The global commons and anthropocentrism.

For abstract submission and further information, please write to:
(deadline for abstracts is May 24, 2015).

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