Urban Commons Workshop at AHRA2023 Conference: Situated Ecologies of Care
Translations in common/s as a matter of care
The Urban Commons Research Collective organised a half-day workshop session chaired by Ana Méndez de Andés (University of Sheffield), Beatrice De Carli (London Metropolitan University) and Katharina Moebus (University of Sheffield) as part of Situated Ecologies of Care conference on 27th of October 2023 that brought together researchers of urban commons across seven localities from different countries. The workshop was UCRC’s initial attempt of expanding the understanding of urban commons beyond the ‘European’ context through engaging with multiple conceptions and practices of collective sharing and management of resources across different geographies, cultures and experiences.
Researchers came together under a format of co-creation where concepts, stories and practices were shared among the group to trigger new conversations to trace translations of ‘commons’. For this workshop, this process was a work of care to recognise “the always imperfect translation between cultural systems, languages, spaces of action, and epistemic environments” (Translations in common/s as a matter of care – Situated Ecologies of Care (ahra2023.org)). Workshop participants were asked to present a situated term with a brief definition, a description of the term’s context, and a project or story that illustrates the term together with an audio or visual item. A total of six contributions started the conversations in the first session: ‘Radical Play’ by Catalina Pollak Williamson, ‘Hesitation as Care’ by Emre Akbil and Lara A Scharf (University of Sheffield), ‘Instituting Hayat’ by Esra Can (University of Sheffield), ‘Masha’s’ by Hala Ghanem (The Hashemite University University), ‘Al-Awneh’ by Jakleen A Al-Dalal’a (University of Sheffield), ‘Hobby and DIY Culture’ by King Him Obed Cheung and Kim Josée Colette Gubbini (Royal Danish Academy), ‘Reappropriation’ by Miza Moreau (University of Glasgow).
The second session was a discussion to map the resonances that emerge between terms to fill the gap between different situations, contexts and positions. We initiated a process of ‘deep translation’, referring to translations across languages by taking into account the cultural and contextual nuances and understanding of the intent behind the original meaning. We proposed five possible operations to start a collective effort of deep translation: translating (translate one of the contextual terms into another language and explore what can/cannot be translated), comparing (examine two terms side by side and explore similarities and differences); transposing (move one of the contextual terms to a different story and/or context, and explore what the term allows/doesn't allow you to see), adapting (consider a contextual term and come up with a word in English/another language/your own language that captures the same/similar meaning in a culturally/politically situated way); shifting (consider what new meanings a term brings to current discussions compared to existing terms in English, e.g. commons, commoning, etc.).
Workshop contributions will provide a loose framework for translation(s), supporting UCRC’s desire to learn transversally from practices and knowledge(s) of commons that are often discreet - particularly in marginalised contexts - yet come with their strong potential to democratise and resist the forms of urban enclosures and territorial separations.
Operationalising the terms across different different situations, contexts and positions
Workshop Translation Boards