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Is commoning compatible with heterotopia? Reflections from Montreal's Champ des Possibles
Poteete, Amy; Kunysz, Pavel; Luka, Nik
2022Nordic Environnemental Social Science Conference


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Keywords :
heterotopia; commoning; montreal; informal open green space; self-organization
Abstract :
[en] Heterotopic green spaces enhance urban regeneration more than other urban green spaces, precisely because of their informality, diversity of activities and imaginings, marginality, and dynamism (cf., Stavrides 2007). Bottom-up occupation of and informal claims to urban space transform relations among people and space. “Commoning” occurs when these transformations produce shared access to and maintenance of resources and/or spaces combined with a sense of mutuality among participants (Bollier and Helfrich 2015, 2019; Blomley 2008, 2016; Linebaugh 2008, 79, 279; Williams 2018). Commoning contributes to the vitality and durability of bottom-up efforts to reclaim and share spaces and resources (Gibson-Graham 2006; Ostrom 1990; Singh 2017). But is it also compatible with heterotopia? In principle, commoning could facilitate coexistence, but if there are tensions among varied imaginaries and activities, it may be incompatible with heterotopia (cf., Helton 2015; Nightingale 2018; Velicu & García-López 2018). We explore these questions in the context of Montreal’s Champ des Possibles, an abandoned railyard that has transformed into an open urban green space where an eclectic and changing set of people engage in a wide variety of activities. Observations and narratives from the Champ des Possible suggest that, despite many tensions and sources of incompatibility, heterotopia and commoning can coexist. The scale, discretion, ephemerality, and tendency to foreclose or open possibilities of activities, values, and visions associated with heterotopia and commoning influence their social acceptability, and thus their compatibility. Our case material also suggests, however, that the question does not fully capture the dynamism or complexity of heterotopia and commoning.
Disciplines :
Sociology & social sciences
Author, co-author :
Poteete, Amy;  Concordia University > Department of Political Science > Loyola Sustainability Research Center
Kunysz, Pavel ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Unité de Recherches de la Faculté d'Architecture (URA)
Luka, Nik;  McGill University [CA] > Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture > CRIEM
Language :
Title :
Is commoning compatible with heterotopia? Reflections from Montreal's Champ des Possibles
Publication date :
08 June 2022
Event name :
Nordic Environnemental Social Science Conference
Event organizer :
School of Global Studies, University of Goteborg
Event place :
Göteborg, Sweden
Event date :
By request :
Audience :
Funders :
F.R.S.-FNRS - Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique [BE]
FRQSC - Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Société et Culture [CA]
SSHRC - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council [CA]
Concordia - Concordia University [CA]
ULg - Université de Liège [BE]
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since 17 July 2022


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