How to do research on/with commons

How to do research on/with commons

Law & Methods Seminar

Seminar with Severine DusollierProfessor at Sciences Po Law School.

The concept of commons has largely invaded all research fields in social sciences and humanities in the last 30 years. In law, the commons have most notably been used as a strategy of resistance to extractivist, exclusive and individual property (in environmental law namely), processes of enclosure (in intellectual property) or neoliberal management of public spaces (in urban law). Despite, or perhaps because of, its success, the concept of commons remains a polymorphous notion that is not always used in a same way depending on the disciplines (economy, history, sociology, political sciences anthropology or law), the types of resources it describes (tangible/intangible, global/local, closed/open) or the countries and their distinct legal regimes.

Using commons in legal research therefore requires first to disentangle economic, sociological and political concepts of commons to define the commons as a legal notion, without neglecting its articulation with its many dimensions and with some foundational scholarship (notably the work of Elinor Ostrom). Research around the commons is also strongly influenced by the fact that commons have simultaneously become the place of critical thinking, of political debate and of grassroots experimentation.

This seminar aims at discussing how to do legal research with the concept of commons, how its legal epistemology is distinct from other research fields, and how to situate your use of the commons in your own research project, as a strategy, tool or legal category.

Possible questions to be discussed during the seminar will be (but come with yours too):

  • The notion of commons, its different types and experiences

  • Commons as a resource or an action (communing)

  • Commons through the prism of different disciplines, different legal fields and through different approaches

  • Key legal scholarship

  • Surrounding notions (e.g. community, semicommons, liberalcommons, inclusivity, open access, res communes, anticommons, common-property regimes…)

  • Social, political and legal experimentations of commons in different legal regimes

Preliminary readings:

Invite-only event.

Event Date: 
Thursday, 25 March, 2021 - 14:30
Event Location: 
Online
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