Un/common grounds: Tracing politics across worlds

Endre Dányi, Michaela Spencer

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In this paper, we explore possibilities for reconceptualizing cosmopolitics by focusing on sites and situations where the problem of un/commonality plays a central role. Stemming from ethnographic research carried out as part of an ongoing collaboration on ‘Landscapes of Democracy’, we outline a study of democratic politics that extends beyond the politics of a single world and attends to landscapes of political practice that embed, and sometimes deny multiplicity. We follow the chronological unfolding of our fieldwork in Germany and Australia, and trace politics across worlds by telling alternating stories about how commonality and uncommonality are achieved in specific parliamentary settings in Frankfurt, Berlin, Darwin and Miliŋimbi – a Yolŋu community in the Northern Territory. We interrogate the relationship between commonality and uncommonality, not as an opposition, but as a series of situated efforts to find out and articulate what needs to be made un/common, for what purposes, and on what terms. Bringing into focus such explicit and implicit framings of cosmopolitics suggests that there is potential for partial and situated practices on the ground to rework un/common futures through the continual reimagining of pasts and the configurations of people and places to which these futures are tied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-334
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Issue number2
Early online date1 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

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