Bridging Materiality and Subjectivity: Expanding the Commons in Cooperation Birmingham

Sergio Ruiz Cayuela

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)
    49 Downloads (Pure)


    Expansion is a matter of survival for emancipatory commons, permanently threatened by enclosure and cooptation. In this paper, I draw from my experience within Cooperation Birmingham to propose a theory (and practice) for expanding the commons that bridges two seemingly conflicting approaches. On the one hand, the concepts of “boundary commoning” and “commons ecologies” proposed by Massimo De Angelis, concerned with social reproduction and material autonomy. And on the other, “expanding commoning” as developed by Stavros Stavrides, which focuses on radical openness and the production of commoning subjectivities. I demonstrate how in organising a mutual aid response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cooperation Birmingham is using an expansion strategy that productively articulates both approaches. Boundary commoning and expanding commoning reinforce each other in the construction of a commons ecology that aims at posing a material alternative to capitalist social organisation while remaining always in-the-making and open to new commoners.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1546-1570
    Number of pages25
    Issue number5
    Early online date3 Mar 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    I would like to thank all my comrades at Cooperation Birmingham. Their love and solidarity are an inspiration to me, and this paper is also theirs. I would also like to thank Chiara and Alex for their support and guidance during the writing process.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2021 The Author. Antipode published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Antipode Foundation Ltd.


    • autonomy
    • boundaries
    • commoning
    • commons
    • militant research
    • social reproduction

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Earth-Surface Processes


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