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Environment, Space, Place

Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 2009

Zachary Davis
Pages 103-129
DOI: 10.7761/ESP.1.2.103

Commons
A Place for No One, A Place for All

The intent of my article is to examine critically the peculiar “forbidden” significance entailed in places designated as the commons. The commons are those places within a particular environment or ecosystem that serve as the essential life-giving resource for its members. Due to both changes in the earth’s climate and the over consumption of resources, the commons are in a state of desperate crisis throughout much of the world. A symptom of this crisis is the rising political and environmental violence specific to those places that harbor the commons. One strategy employed to address the political crisis is the privatization of these life-giving resources. The justification for privatization rests on providing the economic support necessary to secure and gain greater access to the commons. There has been as a result a growing effort from both a human right and environmental standpoint to articulate a global provision that would protect the commons from the industries of privatization and commodification. In this article, I bolster these efforts by specifying the manner by which the commons resist privatization. My focus is on the type of place, or rather, the type of forbidden place the commons are. The commons do not resist by forbidding use or occupation. Quite to the contrary, they resist by giving life, by welcoming all who may sustain themselves through them. Their place is a place for no one precisely because it is a place for all.