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Study of/as Commoning

Anette Baldauf, Vladimir Miller, Annette Krauss, Mara Verlic, Moira Hille, Hong-Kai Wang, Mihret Kebede Alwabie, Julia Wieger, Tesfaye Beri Bekele, Stefan Gruber

'Study of/as Commoning' is one of the outcomes of a research project realized by a group of artists, architects and social theorists at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (2014–16). In times of ongoing environmental crisis, violent land grabbing and the aggressive financialisation of space, time and subjectivities, combined with global migration flows, the research group explored the debates on the commons and the different practices of commoning as potentially providing new entry points for a radical repudiation of neoliberalism. To date, the labor and conflicts involved in the process of commoning have chafed against a Western utopian understanding of the commons as a coming together free of friction. We explored commoning as a process, simultaneously made against and within, existing fields of power. As such, ‘Study as/of Commoning’ is part of a much wider endeavour to rethink and undo the methodological premises of Western sciences, arts and architecture, raising unsettling questions on (artistic) research ethics, accountability, and the entanglement of power and knowledge. In this context, ‘Study of/as Commoning’ considers commoning as a possible methodology, a modality of social relations, and the collective state of mind that framed the research group’s work together. Our research continuously encountered the limitations of Western concepts of the commons, framed as an enclosure that neglects conditions of coloniality and colonial dispossession. Is it possible to hold on to the empowering notions of commoning while acknowledging the significant absences within Western accounts on the commons and the many connections between the commons and the history of empire?