‘Economies of Commoning’ is a practice-based research project investigating the potential of commoning practices to socially (re)produce and sustain common spaces for critical engagement and emancipation, in Berlin-Neukölln and beyond. Through a Marxist-feminist lens of care, the approach of the commons is explored as the leading narrative of this research: as a practical and philosophical framework of an emergent culture of mutual respect and interdependence amongst and between human and more-than-human agents, of networked self-organisation and cooperation, and of a new understanding of ‘the economy’ towards new forms of social relations and ways of being in and with the world.

The motivation for this inquiry arises from two concerns: the first is to understand how ‘caring in common and caring for the common’ can contribute to the creation and sustainment of spaces of dissensus in countercurrent to the logics and pressures of neoliberal capitalism, which are shaping and limiting our subjectivities and political agencies. The second is, how design and critical spatial practice can foster, enable, facilitate, and sustain this process and its possible outcomes. In this context, designing will be investigated from an ‘indisciplinary’ perspective (Rancière) in order to avoid and overcome boundaries of collective knowledge-making created by discipline, reclaiming thought for everyone.

This research is conducted by designer Katharina Moebus as part of her PhD-studies, based remotely at Sheffield University School of Architecture in the UK and supervised by architect Doina Petrescu and environmental geographer Jenny Pickerill.

Project structure:
Being part-time, the research runs over a period of 6 years (until 2024) and consists of four ongoing main parts informing each other:
(1) a literature review,
(2) expert interviews,
(3) local and translocal fieldwork (through 3 practice exchanges), and
(4) the development of a community project and cultural practice (Common(s)Lab) as a collective long-term engagement beyond this research.

About myself:
I am a designer, organiser and researcher working at the intersection of socially engaged design, art, research, and education. My activities are driven by a passion for political and environmental issues, DIY/DIT-culture and mutual learning. I am co-founder and chairwoman of the design/research practice AoA, co-initiator of the aforementioned Common(s)Lab, and former member of the transdisciplinary project space >top. After around ten years of living, learning and working abroad, I am now based in Berlin with my family and recently relocated to a project farm on a Danish island.

About this website:
This website serves as a common pool and platform to document the process of this research; to collect and share all outputs, materials, and findings throughout the duration of this project. Its aim is to make this research as open and collaborative as possible, and to inform and exchange with other researchers, students, designers, architects, and others with an interest in other ways of doing economy and the possible roles design can play in transition processes.

Further terminology:
Economy: ‘negotiation of order within habitats’ (Gibson-Graham & Miller 2015)
Commons: We “generally avoid the focus on commons as shared resources and rather perceive commons as the creation of new forms of sociality, as new collective practices of living, working, thinking, feeling and imagining that act against the contemporary capitalist forms of producing and consuming (variously enclosing) the common wealth” (Ruivenkamp and Hilton, 2017)