Urban commons are more-than-property

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Urban commons are characterised in the literature as collectively shared property in the city shaped by a context of scarce resources, population density, and the interaction of strangers. In the broader commons literature, commons appears as a verb, a noun, and a process made by practices of commoning—albeit still with a focus on property. In this paper, I argue that an understanding of urban commons as more-than-property is needed to recognise how present but elusive urban commons are. I use examples from interviews and observations conducted at a Women's Library to discuss how the access, use, benefit, care, responsibility, and ownership of this urban commons bring it into being through particular practices of commoning. By questioning current ways of defining urban commons, urban scholars gain a grounded understanding of the role of property, and other practices, in maintaining an urban commons over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalGeographical Research
Issue number1
Early online date11 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • urban commons
  • property
  • commoning
  • Newtown, Australia
  • Women's Library
  • qualitative research methods


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