Conflicted Commons: A local makerspace in the neoliberal city

Authors: Caitlin Cunningham, Virginia Commonwealth University, Jesse Goldstein*, Virginia Commonwealth University
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: urban commons, commoning, neoliberalism, creative economy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Bacchus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores some of the tensions that arise through the production of commons (and practices of commoning) in a neoliberal city. In order to understand the complicated process of urban commoning, we are conducting ethnographic research at a makerspace in Richmond, Virginia called HackRVA. This paper begins by considering HackRVA as an urban commons, discussing themes around commoning, community, and space. We then move on to critique the ways in which HackRVA engages with the city of Richmond and how the organization and maintenance of their space, as well as the community therein, reveals commoning efforts that do not always challenge the neoliberal status quo. Using HackRVA as a point of entry, this paper raises questions about the production of urban commons, the influence of neoliberal urbanism and culture in depoliticizing counter-cultural projects, and what this can teach us about the politics of urban commoning, resistance and social reproduction.

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