We would like to invite local activists, academics and anyone interested in discussing with international speakers the need for commons in Malta. We are welcoming persons engaged in the defense of collective and cooperative actions, confronting the neoliberalisation of the commons.
On November 23-24th (Friday and Saturday afternoons) a round table on the topic of “the Commons” will be held in Valletta, Malta as part of the annual European Capital of Culture. The round table is the culmination of a series of events called Utopian Nights that have been bringing together the public, artists, activists and intellectuals since 2017.
As opposed to the previous editions which centered around an artwork, the Utopian Night on the (neo)liberalisation of the Commons will pivot on a political discussion as the beating heart of the event.
We welcome anyone engaged locally in the defense of workers rights, in reclaiming the open access to heritage, the rights of migrants and the sustainability of the environment, willing to discuss these issues in the framework of the commons.
We define commons not simply as the sharing of commons goods such as infrastructure or water, but more importantly as the common obligation that each participant has towards society. It follows that commons are essentially institutions that guarantee to all participants an egalitarian decisional power and access to resources. In this perspective, the debates during this Utopian Night, inspired by the Greek agora where citizens discussed together the management of their society, will be the occasion to practice the commons.
We believe that re-thinking the labor laws or the heritage production and preservation in terms of commons will provide an opportunity to escape liberal ideologies by demonstrating that privatisation and competition are not human nature and that a society based on cooperation is possible.
These roundtables will essentially be the occasion to share views among academics and activists, local and internationals around two themes: Work and Heritage (including the environment), as well as discussion around the definition of community and the important distinction between public and common. The question of Common/community begs further thinking about the boundaries thereof: a particularly challenging issue in our contemporary predicament marked by the so-called “crisis of migration” (especially so in Malta where the topic has dominated the public discussion for nearly two decades now). Who is in and who is out ? How can we develop technologies for belonging and inclusion that transcend the narrow frames of the racial-culturalist identities produced and perpetuated by the nation-state, on the one hand, while avoiding the pitfalls of simplistic liberal cosmopolitanism which, in treating the world in purely abstract and flexible terms, aggrieves situated majorities, on the other?
The discussions will last for 2 days (afternoons only) and each evening the speakers will be invited to join around a long diner table to rejoice together and continue conversing in the clement weather of Malta. Music will accompany the Night keeping with the spirit of common luxury that prevails in all the Utopian Nights.
The speakers are expected to give a brief presentation stressing a particular issue they would like to put forward. The brevity of the presentation (limited to 20 minutes) will allow time for discussion. This will provide enough room for each participant to engage with a constructive conversation around the table, as well as with the audience during the Q&A session.
To apply to join the discussion you will need to send us a one-page letter of intent expressing the ideas you would like to defend and present by no later than Sunday 7th October 2018 to [email protected]. In addition, you are kindly asked to send a 200-word bio note and a portrait photo of yours in JPEG format. This information will be used for promotion on social media.
During the discussion you will not need to give a lecture but you will be seated at the table to discuss actively the points raised by the international speakers. We will circulate a short presentation of each speakers (local and international) among the participants and each of them will be asked to read the text of the others. We believe that this will greatly foster the discussions since we will all have the time to get to know a bit each other before actually meeting in flesh!
The debates and presentations will be done in English.
The debates will be recorded.
The Utopian Nights provides a platform to re-imagine collectively four contemporary themes: displacement, borders, encampment and the (neo)liberalisation of the Commons globally. The catalyst of the series is the notion of Utopia. Here Utopia is understood essentially as a democratic space – it is a platform for discussion and a participatory project in which everyone can debate, challenge and be challenged equally. Each night the public is invited to engage with a specific issue and discuss it with local and international thinkers. Each Night will culminate in a joyful social gathering, providing the artists, thinkers and the public with an opportunity to take part in a common experience.