Our colleague Maywa Montenegro will be leading this panel in the upcoming 4S New Orleans Conference

  • Maywa Montenegro, University of California, Davis
  • Alastair Iles, University of California, Berkeley
  • Akos Kokai, University of California, Berkeley

The privatization of public knowledge has become endemic to 21st century times. From corporate battles over drug patents to seed wars, knowledge produced in many forms, sites, spaces, and communities is increasingly enclosed – that is, separated from its knowledge-makers and commodified for the accumulation of capital. Science and technology are at once driving and experiencing the effects of many contemporary enclosures. To counter such trends in enclosures, in the past 15 years, knowledge commons have materialized in some S&T fields (Frischmann, Madison, and Strandburg, 2014), as well as in citizen-led movements such as Wikipedia, Creative Commons, open access science databases, and crowd-sourced science and nature platforms. Yet S&T knowledge is also becoming important to building an array of material infrastructure and institutions, in both the industrial- and developing world contexts (e.g. energy commons and fishery commons). Many of these cases revive traditional customs and norms, braiding centuries-old knowledges into something ‘new.’

We welcome papers that explore the multiple dimensions of both knowledge commons and how knowledge is being used to create or support all varieties of commons. Some potential topics include: What are the potential contributions of commons to helping regenerate and democratize the everyday practice of science and technology? How does knowledge-making enable and sustain the formation of commons, and whose knowledge matters? What sorts of knowledge are produced within commons, and how might these play a role in the identity and governance of commons? How might new technologies update and reinvigorate commons practices? How might it disrupt them? What does it mean to be ‘innovative’ in the context of a commons? Can we move from treating knowledge as a resource to ‘thinking like commoners’?

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