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The Underworlds Series: The Commons as Sites of Global Dis/Ordering

January 24, 2024 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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As part of the Underworlds series, this event engages with the ‘commons’ as sites of global dis/ordering.

Rather than focusing strictly on how the commons are formally (mis)recognised or regulated in (international) law, the event foregrounds the diverging modes of dis/ordering that practices of commoning can produce. This entails an attentiveness to the new legal spaces that commoning engenders, as well as the forms of political subjectivity and resistance that animate it. Moving across different sites and scales, the event explores commoning practices on both a transnational and local level – from a reimagining of international law’s constitution of value and space beyond national jurisdiction to the urban practices of adverse commoning employed under conditions of rapid gentrification.

The Speakers

Elsa Noterman is a Lecturer in Human Geography at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), where she is also a Fellow of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences. Prior to joining QMUL, she was a Junior Research Fellow at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge. She received her PhD in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research takes a feminist, decolonial and critical legal geography approach to property and questions of land and housing justice. In her work, she considers how everyday collective struggles over land and housing in the U.S., and more recently in the UK, contest normative property regimes, often in pursuit of equity and repair and through commoning. 

Isabel Feichtner is Professor of Public Law and International Economic Law at the University of Würzburg. Her research interests cover the distributive effects of (international) law, the democratization of society, and the law of the commons and commoning. She explores how institutional experiments, e.g. the redesign of money or Commons Public Partnerships, can support social-ecological transformation. Isabel is founder of the Transformation Law Clinic at Würzburg University and currently fellow and chair of the programme ‘Reclaiming   Common Wealth. Towards a Law and Political Economy of Land Commons’ at The New Institute in Hamburg. Her publications include the volume Constitutions of Value (co-edited with Geoff Gordon, 2023) and the articles ‘Mining for Humanity in the Deep Sea and Outer Space: The Role of Small States and International Law in the Extraterritorial Expansion of Extraction’, and ‘Critical Scholarship and Responsible Practice of  International Law: How Can the Two Be Reconciled?’.

Event Resources

The Series: Underworlds – Sites and Struggles of Global Dis/Ordering

Engagement with practices of global ordering is often guided towards specific locations and legacies: the sovereign state, the formal sources and standards of international law, the intricacies of global diplomacy, the historical juncture and its (anti-)heroes, the international palaces of hope in Geneva, New York, or The Hague. These explorations entail ideas of where power resides and where it is to be unmasked or undone – ideas implicitly grounded in modernist geographies, temporalities, and subjectivities. Starting from the limits of these familiar perspectives, this lecture and workshop series traces the multiple ways in which these sites, actors, and events are cabined, crossed, and cut apart by alternative material arteries, lineages, and languages of global dis/ordering.

The series takes as starting point that authority and order are not fixed properties of specific actors or institutions, but the result of ongoing material processes of ordering and world-making. As such, it traces unconventional forms and sites of global dis/ordering – from raw materials to projections of hope – as material, infrastructural, and discursive compositions that shape patterns of power. The encounter between old- and new materialist, Marxist and decolonial methodologies and modes of critique is one of the key objectives of this series. Its aim, however, is not only methodological: it aspires to inspire new ethical and political openings that attend to our inevitable complicity in taking part in these processes, and reveal new modes of resistance and refusal, of struggle and sociality. These interventions are not narrowly targeted at the old nemeses of critique – the state, the truth, the universal – but work from within both entrenched and emergent material sites and practices of dis/ordering: oceans, oil / coal, breath, debt, commons, frontier(s), waste, hope, wild / feral, vessels.

Programme (all events take place online at 14.00 BST)

Oceans (with Renisa Mawani and Surabhi Ranganathan) – 11 October 2023

Oil / Coal (with Lys Kulamadayil and On Barak) – 25 October 2023

Breath (with Daniela Gandorfer and Jean-Thomas Tremblay) – 22 November 2023

Debt (with Vasuki Nesiah and Kojo Koram) – 13 December 2023

Commons (with Isabel Feichtner and Elsa Noterman) – 24 January 2024

Frontier(s) (with Christine Schwöbel-Patel and Cait Storr) – 28 February 2024

Waste (with Heather Davis and Michael Hennessy Picard) – 27 March 2024

Hope (with Claire Colebrook and David Chandler) – 24 April 2024

Wild / Feral (with Irus Braverman and Floris De Witte) – 29 May 2024

Vessels (with Rinaldo Walcott and Itamar Mann) – 19 June 2024

The series is convened by Marie Petersmann and Dimitri Van Den Meerssche and co-organised by QMUL (the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context) and the LSE Law School.


January 24, 2024
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Event Category:


Law Events


Online event