CFP RGS 2018: Re-engaging the Global Commons

Re-engaging the Global Commons
Call for Papers: RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Cardiff, 28th August – 31st August 2018

Conveners: Craig Jones, Alexandra Gormally and Rosanna Carver, Lancaster University

The Global Commons – the high seas, atmosphere, Antarctica, and outer space – have historically been construed as areas outside the control of any one nation state and, consequently, have usually been framed as the common heritage of humankind (Buck, 1998). This framing has frequently been used to refute property rights within these resource domains, thereby limiting the commercial exploitation of these environments. However, the development of various technologies has led to these resource domains becoming increasingly accessible (UNEP, 2017) and there are numerous attempts to begin exploiting these ‘resource frontiers’, such as deep sea mining, the assertion of fishing rights in Antarctic waters, and proposals of asteroid mining and extraterrestrial settlement. The various activities proposed (or, indeed, occurring) for the Global Commons challenges the traditional notions of what they are and the manner(s) in which they operate, these operations falling within the sole remit of private actors with sufficient capital to engage with these areas, thus disrupting the idea that the Commons are the common heritage of humankind.

              With these issues in mind, one may wish to question whether the traditional definition(s) of the Commons continues to be sufficient. To whom do these Commons now belong? Who is excluded/included? What are the various geometries of power at play? What actors are involved and how are they positioned? How do interested parties frame these areas? How are these contested and by whom? How and where do these debates fit within current political and geographical debates? This session seeks to explore these questions and more through a re-engagement with the Global Commons and what this means within the contemporary socio-political-economic climate.

              Please send your abstracts of no more than 250 words to the conveners by no later than Thursday February 8thWe are also happy to answer any queries you have via email: c.jones21[at], a.gormally[at], r.carver[at]

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