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The Limits of Property and The Potentiality of the Common(s), a Literary Exploration

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Organizer: Federico Correa Pose

Co-Organizer: Matias Larramendi Salvat

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Although it can be affirmed that a notion of the common(s) was already present in Marx's later writings, the interest in it and its development as an autonomous concept is quite new in Marxist scholarship. The reflection on it is crucial in the recent works of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (if we think particularly about Commonwealth and Assembly), Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval (in a book precisely titled Common: On Revolution in the 21st Century), Silvia Federici (Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Common), Álvaro García Linera (La comunidad ilusoria: una reflexión sobre el Estado, lo público, lo común, la esperanza ciudadana y la esperanza en tiempos de incertidumbre mundial) and Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar (Horizontes comunitario-populares: producir lo común más allá de las políticas Estado-céntricas), among others.

In all these cases, we find different ways of understanding the common(s). Some see it as a concept that refers to a principle of political organization against or outside the State, the apparatus that Marx defined as an “apparent community”. Others understand the common as pointing to an intrinsic social dimension of being, an ontological category which nevertheless has its political ramifications. The element that appears to be predominant in these definitions is the rejection of the State, of private and public property, and the need for autonomous spaces of popular participation and organization.

The question that we want to pose here is, what relationship can be established between the common(s) and literary practice? Is there anything about the idea of literature itself that links it to this concept? Can literature, specifically Latin American literature, tell us something about the potentiality or limitations of thinking within the framework of the common(s) in the current conjuncture? If we look at Latin America, one thing that is lacking in the field of Latin American cultural and literary studies is precisely a reflection on the relationship between the common(s) and literature. We believe that the social variegation characteristic of the region generates the ideal conditions for literary experimentations which expose contradictions and leave a door open to glimpse the possibility of an “other” literature and society as a whole, an effort that coincides with what this concept aims to point towards. Considering this, we invite scholars working in the field of Latin American literary studies to present papers that reflect on these issues, focusing on the period between the early 200s and today.

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