The subjects of/in commoning and the affective dimension of infrastructuring the commons

Giacomo Poderi

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Approaching the commons as a practice, as commoning, brings to the fore the concrete, historically, socially, and culturally situated mobilization of commoners around the resources they rely on or hold dear. However, the extent to which commoners are known, addressed, or even framed in relation to their engagement with and commitment to commoning still remains limited. This paper argues for the need to approach commoning through an ethos of care, which spurs us reconsidering the ‘neglected things’ and the things taken for granted in the discourses about commoners and commoning. In order to do so, this paper engages with the question how can our understanding of commoning and commoners be enriched by considering the affective dimension of engaging with such practice? As such, it focuses on the entanglement of affect, commoners, and commoning and it foregrounds commoners as subjects with their situated needs, expectations, and desires. A Spinozian-Deleuzian understanding of affect is adopted here which conceives it as a relational force that moves among bodies and enhances or diminishes their ability to act. Empirically, the paper builds on a two-year research that investigated the long-term sustainability of commoning and on the semi-structured interviews conducted therein with long-term commoners from three different practices: urban, digital, and knowledge commons. By identifying traces of affect in commoners’ narrations, the paper shows affect as a force mediating the tensions between continuing or interrupting the personal involvement in commoning; and as the indigenous’ awareness of something that keeps commoners and commoning together.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Peer Production
Pages (from-to)30-44
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • commoners
  • affect
  • long-term commoning
  • caring
  • labour


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