A Dialogue Must Take Place, Precisely Because We Don't Speak the Same Language*
With contributions by Ghalya Alsanea; Ahmed Ansari; Tatiana Bilbao; Mónica Chuji, Grimaldo Rengifo, Eduardo Gudynas; Johannes Heimrath; Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti; Jeff Hou; Eleni Katrini and Aristodimos Komninos; Joar Nango; Brook Teklehaimanot; Yoshiharu Tsukamoto.
Curated by Stefan Gruber and Chun Zheng.
Translation and editing by Helen Young Chang.
Web development by Yilun Hong.
As we struggle to come to terms with a world in crisis and imagine more inclusive, equitable and environmental futures, the limits of our own cultural reflexivity stare us in the face. “Language is the house of power,” Mustapha Khayati writes in Captive Words (1966), warning us of the pitfalls that come from critiquing the old world in the very language it was made. Prompted by the question “What do we have in common?” we take differences not as a force that pulls us apart, but as a starting point for coming together. Here we aim to initiate a dialogue about spaces and practices of commoning, their situated histories and plural etymologies, and the (im)possibility of translating them from one language or culture into another. If indeed other worlds are possible, they will emerge from a plurality of practices and viewpoints, old and new, indigenous and urban communities, feminist and environmental movements alike.
In Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970)**, Paulo Freire reflects on the notion of dialogue or the dialogical as both “reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed—even in part—the other suffers immediately.”
In Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), Paulo Freire reflects on the notion of dialogue or the dialogical as both “reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed - even in part - the other suffers immediately.”
Sacrifice of action = verbalism
Sacrifice of reflection = activism
He insists that “while to say the true word—which is work, which is praxis—is to transform the world, saying that word is not the privilege of some few persons, but the right of everyone. Consequently, no one can say a true word alone—nor can she say it for another, in a prescriptive act which robs others of their words.” Any dialogue, then, is marked by humility, the willingness to be displaced.
Building on Paulo Freire, a dialogue must take place about language through which we describe practices of commoning in order to undo an Anglo-Saxon epistemology of the commons debate and reflect on the entanglement of power and knowledge at the root of contemporary research, education and cultural production. Through these conversations, we hope to explore the pluriversality of commoning.
* Ahmed, S. (2000). Strange encounters: Embodied others in post-coloniality. London: Routledge. p. 180.
**Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary ed.). Continuum.