MCA Taster course 2

Following our first hugely successful Taster weekend, held in Brighton in June 2022 (see here for a brief report), we are running a second Taster course in January 2023. It will be held in a centre at the foot of Blencathra in the Lake District.

There is more information about the Taster course below and you can apply online here.

As in the summer in Brighton, the weekend will facilitate deep engagment with some of the issues relating to commons and commoning. We don't expect all participants to be familiar with the either the perspective or practices of commons and commoning, so we will begin with an introduction to the concepts and (contested) history. A significant chunk of the time will be devoted to discussion of three commons case studies. The case studies we have selected for this weekend include: a community energy generation project in south London; Solidarity Clinics in Greece; and the ZAD – the Zone Á Défendre de Notre-damme-des-Landes in Brittany.

On the Saturday evening there will be a keynote talk, which will be delivered by J.T. Roane. Roane's book Dark Agoras: Insurgent Black Social Life and the Politics of Place will be newly published. The title of the talk he'll be giving to us is 'Plot: On Black Spatial Insurgency'. (See below for more details about Roane and his talk.)

On Sunday morning we will share with participants 'seven key themes' in a set of 'lightning talks'.

At every stage of the weekend there will much time for discussion and collective exploration of the ideas. There will also be time for a walk in the surrounding area, which is stunning (for those who wish this and are able) – and we will share with participants some the Lake District's particular history of commons and commons' antithesis, enclosure.

Taster blurb Jan 23.pdf

Plot: On Black Spatial Insurgency

In the context of slavery, various interrelated iterations of the plot—the site of the body’s interment, the garden parcel, a roving imaginary of the potential for connection in land and waterscapes out­side of domination, and hidden insurrectionary activity—fostered a vision of de-commodified water and landscapes as well as resources among the enslaved. Evolv­ing in dialectic with mastery and dominion especially as expressed in the social-spatial form of the plantation, enslaved and post-emancipation communities plotted a set of communal resources within the interstices of plantation ecologies, constituting the Black commons. The paper examines the plot’s and the Black commons’ reorganization as living logics, as hybridized cultural praxes with capacity for incremental and radical transformation, translation, and translocation prompted by intracommunal dynamics and their expression in a dynamic relation with the forces that impinge upon Black placemaking from outside—extractionism, disposability, displacement, and death. Translated to the city in the context of the Great Migrations (1880s–1920s; 1945-1970) beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, this imaginary continued to underwrite a diverse array of visions for personal and collective urban social formations askew from the uneven terrain engendered by racial capitalism. In the rural context, the plot and the Black commons continued to evolve as a vision of an ecological otherwise, creating space of collectivity hedging the Jim Crow era enclosure. Finally, the plot served as the basis of radical thinker and writer June Jordan’s vision of terraforming “mississippi-america” through radical land reform and the abolition of property from the 1970s until her death in 2002.


Born and raised in Tappahannock, Virginia, J.T. Roane is assistant professor of Africana Studies and Geography and Andrew W. Mellon chair in Global Racial Justice in the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University. He received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and he is a 2008 graduate of the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia. His book Dark Agoras: Insurgent Black Social Life and the Politics of Place is out in January 2023 with New York University Press. He serves as a member of Just Harvest—Tidewater, an Indigenous and Black led organization seeking the transformation of food in Virginia’s historical plantation region through political and practical education and transformation.