Commonwealth Project

Greetings! Allow us to introduce ourselves: Alex Means, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and Paul Aitken, a PhD candidate at the University of Leeds’s Institute of Communications Studies. We are collaborating on a project to discuss and review Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Commonwealth, the third installment of their “Empire Trilogy.” In preparation, summary/notes of each section of the book will appear in the Analysis & Commentary section of Critical Stew, and will be cross-posted at Jajuna and Fugitive Imagination. This is in the interest of generating critical conversation about the book and related issues. Unlike these schematic notes the book review will aim to accomplish two things (1) an excavation of some productive criticisms/limitations of Hardt and Negri‚Äôs project (2) the creation of something new by thinking with and against Hardt and Negri in the context of our respective intellectual interests. For Alex, this means thinking about what productive insights Commonwealth might contribute to discussions of urbanization, education, and security/insecurity, and for Paul, it means thinking about online communities, internet surveillance, and theories of gifting and exchange. Of course, we hope to also think about how these fields speak to one another, the common, and possibilities for social transformation. This underscores a parallel co-written project that problematizes internet surveillance within higher education through an examination of campus-based corporate anti-piracy campaigns and questions of security and neoliberal governmentality.

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