Carving Out The Commons By Amanda Huron

Introduction by
Amanda Huron

This book forum grew out of an “author meets critics” session at the April 2018 meeting of the American Association of Geographers. Lisa Bates, Nate Gabriel, Stephen Healy, and Heather McLean all responded to the book there, raising important questions about feminist theory, black feminist theory, theorizing capitalism, and the utility of the idea of the commons.

For this book forum, four additional people working at the intersection of housing theory and practice have been invited to respond as well. Dominic Moulden and James Tracy are both housing organizers and scholar/teachers in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, respectively, and I’ve admired the work of them both for many years. Yvonne Yen Liu, of the Solidarity Research Center in Los Angeles, and Camila D’Ottaviano, of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, both served as respondents at a book discussion hosted by Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) in May 2018, and I was intrigued by the perspective they brought to the book. That event was organized by Kenton Card of the University of California, Los Angeles, to whom I owe much thanks.

essays in this forum

The Brutal Energy Of The Capitalist City

"Carving Out the Commons" is a much-needed, compellingly-told narrative of activism in the face of capitalist violence in urban housing markets, told through stories of successful efforts at self-determination by opting out of one of the most aggressively-capitalist housing markets in the country.


Nate Gabriel

Carving Out For Her And Hers: Black Women's Commoning

Amanda Huron’s "Carving Out the Commons" is a strong contribution to literatures on diverse economies and the urban commons and it advances thinking about the workings of non-market forms of housing in gentrifying cities.


Lisa Bates

Housing Cooperatives: A Possible Alternative

Amanda's book points out to two fundamental questions. First, the importance of the support of Washington's municipal government, with the interest-free funding for the purchase of properties by families threatened with eviction. And secondly, it shows how the model of cooperatives is a possible form of access to housing of quality and well located for low-income families, avoiding the options traditionally offered by the real estate market.


Camila D'Ottaviano

From Pre-Figurative To Pro Forma: The Boredom Of The Commons

Amanda Huron’s Carving Out the Commons: Tenant Organizing and Housing Cooperatives in Washington D.C. is such a valuable work. It is not an organizing manual, yet it immensely valuable to housing organizers. Its theoretical and academic engagement is near perfect, but the book is grounded in the real life experiences of working-class Black residents of the city Huron was raised in.


James Tracy

Commoning In Los Angeles: Emergent Solidarity Economies

Commoning doesn’t have to be explicitly anti-capitalist. I’ve found, in my research, that people engaged in prefigurative practices don’t necessarily have an oppositional consciousness.


Yvonne Yen Liu

Commoning In The City: Discerning A Post-Capitalist Politics Now And Here

"Carving out the Commons" (Huron 2018), the second book in the Diverse Economies and Livable Worlds book series, is a wonderful contribution to a series focused on post-capitalist possibilities. The book’s objective is to discern practices of commoning in everyday life, even in the so-called ‘Capitalist city’, as the basis for a post-capitalist politics.


Stephen Healy

Carving Out Everyday Spaces For Feminist Commoning: A Review From Glasgow'S Kinning Park Complex

Huron’s research of commoning practices in Washington D.C provides nuanced feminist analysis that I can draw from in my work. As Curran (2018), Parker (2017) and Isoke (2014) and other queer and feminist researchers point out, critical analyses of urban politics and activism informed by political economy approaches often sideline any engagement with difference.


Heather McLean

Arguing The Commons, Extending Ideas: A Response

Here, I try to tease out just a few of the points these thoughtful writers have made, and think about how this work — the collective work of documenting, theorizing, and enacting the commons — could be extended.


Amanda Huron

Housing Spaces Are The Commons

Huron’s book supports us grassroots organizers and public intellectuals in our on-the-ground debate and discussion about strategies to reclaim and rebuild our urban communities, and especially our housing spaces. We can use this book as a tool for research and reflection, and to practice emerging ideas and plans for housing commons.


Dominic Moulden