March 17, 2020

Anja Vujović, Sara Nikolić Commoning the Lifeworld – Sensory Approaches to Urban Commons

The purpose of this lecture is to highlight the importance of experiences – the sensorial, the memorized and the lived worlds – in the production of social spaces. The lecture will consider two urban phenomena that extend the theoretical reach of the concept of urban commons – common spaces encompassing large housing estates and squatted spaces. Essentially different – inclusive, shared, exterior spaces as opposed to the wary exclusivity of squatted objects – these two spatial phenomena embody the capacity for social engagement, enabling the practice of commoning through incompleteness. To showcase the ephemerality of urban commons and the lifeworlds of their wayfarers, the ethnographic material collected in Belgrade and Poznan is based on sensobiographical walks, sensory mapping, joint performance and elicitation of objects. Finally, the lecture will offer the argument that existing knowledge of urban commons can be expanded by incorporating physical and emotional experiences, everyday practices and personal memories, which are often neglected in social theory.

Sara Nikolic is a PhD student at the Department of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade. Her emerging thesis is based on an ethnographic study of urban dwelling and a post-transitional relationship to common areas and urban commons encompassing New Belgrade blocks. She seeks to explore these issues by relying on phenomenological, sensory, and critical ethnographic techniques. Furthermore, she is a research assistant at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory, where she researches on new social movements, trust in governance and cultures of rejection.

Anja Vujovic is a Master’s student at the Department of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade. In line with her research interests, she ponders how people organize themselves and how they conceptualize work, the workspace, and the process of creation using the methods of organizational, visual, and anthropology of engagement and art.

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