Video abstract – "Working with Strangers in Saturated Space: Reclaiming and Maintaining the Urban Commons"

Forthcoming in Antipode 47:4 this September, and available online now, Amanda Huron’s Working with Strangers in Saturated Space: Reclaiming and Maintaining the Urban Commons” is the latest of a growing number of papers in the journal on the commons – or, as Amanda puts it, “ways to envision new worlds”.

One strand of commons research, she tells us, focuses on the local scale, on small groups in “traditional”, mostly rural societies; this research asks how commons are maintained over time. Another strand focuses on the commons at a global scale; this is political research that asks how commons can be reclaimed from a capitalist landscape. In her Antipode paper, Amanda bridges these two approaches by theorising the commons as reclaimed and maintained in the context of the city, through examining the experiences of limited-equity housing cooperatives in Washington, DC. She argues that the urban commons is marked by two distinct traits: it emerges in space that is “saturated” with people, competing uses, and financial investment; and it is constituted by the collective work of strangers. And as the challenges of reclaiming and maintaining an urban commons are substantial, so the need for them is urgent.

You can see Amanda talking about her research below, and read more at her superb website,

For more on various commons, see these recent Antipode papers:

Capitalist Formations of Enclosure: Space and the Extinction of the Commons by Alvaro Sevilla-Buitrago;

The Capital of Diversity: Neoliberal Development and the Discourse of Difference in Washington, DC by Justin Maher;

Taking Space: Moments of Rupture and Everyday Life in Occupy London by Sam Halvorsen;

Escape into the City: Everyday Practices of Commoning and the Production of Urban Space in Dublin by Patrick Bresnihan and Michael Byrne;

Governing the Commercial Streets of the City: New Terrains of Disinvestment and Gentrification in Toronto’s Inner Suburbs by Katharine Rankin and Heather McLean;

“This is how I want to live my life”: An Experiment in Prefigurative Feminist Organizing for a More Equitable and Inclusive City by Janet Siltanen, Fran Klodawsky and Caroline Andrew;

Barrio Women’s Invited and Invented Spaces Against Urban Elitisation in Chacao, Venezuela by Juan Velásquez Atehortúa;

The Squatters’ Movement in Europe: A Durable Struggle for Social Autonomy in Urban Politics by Miguel Martínez López;

Gatekeepers of the Urban Commons? Vigilant Citizenship and Neoliberal Space in Multiethnic Paris by Andrew Newman; and

Articulating Climate Justice in Copenhagen: Antagonism, the Commons, and Solidarity by Paul Chatterton, David Featherstone and Paul Routledge.



  1. Malini Ranganathan

    Fantastic video, Amanda. I love the way you break down the concept of “the commons”, carefully weighing the merits and pitfalls of applying it to an urban context. Great visuals on DC, as well.