To celebrate the publication of the French edition of Free, Fair and Alive, I recently had the pleasure to visit Tunis and Paris to give the commons, and Silke's and my book, some visibility.
Tunis is a country with a long history of commoning in various contexts – agriculture, water in desert oases, learning, social cooperation – but modern culture often dismisses this history as premodern or backward. The Heinrich Boell Foundation-Tunisia is attempting to change this by launching a new program that showcases Tunisian commons and commons discourse. How refreshing that people can consider post-colonial options that move beyond capitalism, socialism, and autocracy!
I was pleased to see the keen interest in Le Pouvoir Subversif des Communs, which was translated into French by Olivier Petitjean and a small team of commoners-translators. Print versions of the book can be bought via Editions Charles Léopold Mayer or read online for free at https://freefairandalive.org/fr/lis-le.
At the Boell Foundation’s invitation, I gave a well-attended public talk and workshop in Tunis. I also gave an interview to the Tunisian video podcast, Ecologia, hosted by Arafet Ben Marzou and Emily Samsar. Episode #30 of Ecologia -- entitled “The insurgent power of the commons and the crisis of imagination” – explored the relevance of the commons in Tunisian culture and history.
In addition to these resources, the Boell Foundation has prepared an online library of resources, and collecting a variety of essays about commoning in Tunisia, with an accent on water and land commons. (French version: https://tn.boell.org/fr/la-librairie-des-communs Arabic version: https://tn.boell.org/ar/mktbt-almshaat.) I am no expert in Tunisian commons, but I was excited to learn about so many vibrant commons that still have resonance in cultural memory. One highlight of my visit hearing the singer Nidhal Yahyaoui and his band, which mixed rock with traditional rhythms and chanting (northwest Tunisian Berber culture) for a mesmerizing performance at a party celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Boell Foundation in Tunis.
I later moved on to Paris for a talk with the "Cognitive Capitalism" seminar at Maison des Sciences Économiques. The ongoing seminar is sponsored by CEMTI Paris 8 in collaboration with CES-CNRS Paris 1, Panthèone Sorbonne, and Sophiapol Nanterre – and in the case of my talk, with the help of Remix the Commons. (Big thanks to Frédéric Sultan!)
Following the Paris talk about Le Pouvoir Subversif des Communs, several speakers and members of the audience took part in a beautiful homage to my friend and coauthor Silke Helfrich, who passed away in November 2021. It was a bittersweet experience to hear so many fond memories and tributes in honor of my dear friend.